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24 vols., Price, per vol., net, $1.25. 

Each book complete In itself, and any volume will be 
gold separately. 

Volume I. 





4t VII. 




" XVII. 


PREPARATION FOR DEATH ; or, Considerations on the Eter 
nal Truths. Maxims of Eternity Rule of Life. 

Pious Reflections. Spiritual Treatises. 

Prayer: Mental Prayer. The Exercises of a Retreat. 
Choice of a State of Life, and the Vocation to the 
Religious State and to the Priesthood. 

CHRIST ; or, The Mysteries of Faith. 


THE HOLY EUCHARIST. The Sacrifice, the Sacrament, 
and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. Practice of Love 
of Jesus Christ. Novena to the Holy Ghost. 

VIII. GLORIES OF MARYS i. Explanation of the Salve 
Regina, or Hail, Holy Queen. Discourses on the Feasts 
of Mary. 2. Her Dolors. Her Virtues. Practices. 
Examples. Answers to Critics. Devotion to the Holy 
Angels. Devotion to St. Joseph. Novena to St. Teresa. 
Novena for the Repose of the Souls in Purgatory. 

VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS ; or, the Lives of the Most 

Celebrated Martyrs of the Church. 

sixteen Chapters. 2. The last eight Chapters. Appendix 
and various small Works. Spiritual Letters. 

collection of Material for Ecclesiastical Retreats. Rule 
of Life and Spiritual Rules. 

THE HOLY MASS: Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ceremonies 
of the Mass. Preparation and Thanksgiving. The Mass 
and the Office that are hurriedly said. 

THE DIVINE OFFICE : Explanation of the Psalms and 

PREACHING : The Exercises of the Missions. Various 
Counsels. Instructions on the Commandments and 


MISCELLANY. Historical Sketch of the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer. Rules and Constitutions of the 
Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Instructions 
about the Religious State. Lives of two Fathers and of a 
Lay Brother, C.SS.R. Discourses on Calamities. Re 
flections useful for Bishops. Rules for Seminaries. 


Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago. 





Bishop of Saint Agatha, and Founder of the Congregation of the Most 
Holy Redeemer. 



K,E"V- IE TJ Gr E! IsT IE Gr IR I DVt IMI 3 

Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 

Volume XV. 


Letter to a Religious. Letter to a Bishop. The Exercises 
of the Missions. Instructions on the Command 
ments and the Sacraments. 



Memoriam gloriosi Congregations SS. Redemptoris Fundatoris, centesimo, 
a.b ejus obitu, adventante anno, pio et admodum opportune consilio recolere 
aggressus es, dum omnia ipsius opera anglice vertenda, et typis edenda curasti. 
Summus itaque Pontifex, cui turn S. Doctoris exaltatio, turn fidelium utilitas 
summopere cordi est libentissime excepit 9 volumina hue usque edita, quas Ei 
offerre voluisti. Ac dum meritas Tibi laudes de hac perutili tua cura prasbet, 
et gratias de filial! oblatione agit, Benedictionem, quam tuis obsequentissimis 
litteris petiisti, Emi quoque archiepiscopi Baltimorensis commendationi 
obsecundans, ex intimo corde impertiit. 

Ha2c ad Te deferens fausta cuncta ac felicia a Domino Tibi adprecor. 
Paternitatis Tuae, 


ROMAE, die 4 Junii, 1888. 



As the centenary of the death of the illustrious Founder of the Congrega 
tion of the Most Holy Redeemer drew near, you conceived the pious and 
appropriate plan of shedding a new lustre on his memory by translating all 
his works into English and publishing them. The Holy Father, therefore, 
who has at heart the spiritual advancement of the faithful, as well as the 
exaltation of the holy Doctor, has most graciously accepted the nine volumes 
thus far published, which you wished to present to him. While bestowing 
upon you well-deserved praise for your useful labor, and thanking you for 
the gift inspired by your filial love, he gives you from his heart the blessing 
which you humbly asked for in your letter, complying also with the request 
of the Most Rev. Archbishop of Baltimore. 

As th .. bearer of this, I wish you all happiness in the Lord. 
I am, Reverend Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 


ROME, June 4, 1888., 


Letter to a Religious. Letter to a Bishop. The 

Exercises of the Missions. Instructions on the 

Commandments and the Sacraments. 


Doctor of the Church. 



Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 


Printers to the Holy Apostolic See. 



M. H. GILL & SON, 



By virtue of the authority granted me by the Most Rev. Nicholas 
Mauron, Superior-General of the Congregation of the Most Holy 
Redeemer, I hereby sanction the publication of the work entitled 
" PREACHING," which is Volume XV. of the new and complete edition 
in English of the works of St. Alphonsus de Liguori, called "The 
Centenary Edition." 


Sup. Prov. Baltimorcnsis. 

BALTIMORE, MD., May 12, 1889. 

J/1N23 J953 

Copyright, 1890, by El ias Frederick Schayer, 








INTRODUCTION, ....... 93 

CHAPTER I. EXHORTATIONS,. . . . . .... 95 

I. Exhortations of the evening, 95. 

Preliminary remarks, 95. Division of the discourse, 97. 
Examples of different evening exhortations, 101. Various 
stanzas, 109. Simultaneous exhortations, in. 
II. Exhortations of the day, 114. 
III. Exhortation of the discipline, 117. Exhortation to trail 

the tongue on the ground, 121. 
IV. Exhortation of peace, 124. 


I. The Narration, 130. 

II. The Mysteries, 133. 

The joyful mysteries, 133. The sorrowful mysteries, 136. 
The glorious mysteries, 137. 



Example of the soliloquy for the people with the pre 
paratory acts for Communion, 147. Exhortation of peace 
before Communion, 149. Acts of desire, 151. Thanks 
giving after Communioi, a ji53. 

6 Contents. 



I. The method to be following in teaching catechism, 156. 

II. What should be explained to the children during the mis 
sion, 157. The mysteries of our holy faith, 158. The 
sacraments, 159. The commandments of God and the 
commandments of the Church, 163. 

III. The little sermon addressed to the children after cate 
chism, 165. 

PEOPLE, 169 


I. The Invention, or the choice of materials for composing 
a sermon, 179. Common interior Places or Topics, 180. 
Common extrinsic Places or Topics, 183. The manner 
of gathering materials, 184. 

II. The Disposition of the parts that belong to a sermon, 184. 

The exordium, 185. The proof, 189. The peroration, 

III. Elocution, . 198 

Tropes, 207. Figures of words, 209. Figures of thought, 

IV. Memory, Pronunciation, and. Gesture, 215. 

V. Special instructions in regard to mission sermons, 219. 
The substance of the sermons, 219. The form of the 
sermons, 220. The act of contrition and the end of the 
sermon, 223. Examples of various motives for the act 
of contrition, 226. Conclusion, 228. Note as to the ser 
mons usually preached on our missions, 229. 
VI. Exercises of the devout life, 230. 

VII. The last sermon, on perseverance, with the Papal blessing, 

234. Manner of giving the last sermon, 235. Manner 
of taking leave, 237. Manner of giving the blessing, 

VIII. Other remarks regarding the sermon, 244. 

Practices at the end of the sermon, .244. The erection 

of crosses, 247. The placing of the audience and of the 

pulpit, 250. The hour when the sermon is preached, 251. 


THE MISSION, ^ ..,,..... 251 

I. The morning meditation, 254.^ 

Contents. 7 


II. The discourse for the members of the confraternity, 255. 

The secret confraternity, 260. 
III. The discourse to maidens, 261. 


I. Exercises to be performed by the people, 277. Rules of 

conduct and practices of devotion which should be ob 
served by every unmarried woman who performs the 
pious exercises, 280. 

II. Exercises that are to be recommended to the priests, 281. 

Obedience, 297. Humility, 297. Mortification, 299. 
Piety, 299. Modesty, 300. Courtesy and gravity, 300. 


I. Love for Jesus Christ, 302. 

II. Devotion to the Mother of God, 305. 

III. Necessity of prayer in order to save our souls, 309. 

IV. The flight from dangerous occasions, 313. 

V. The ruin of souls who through shame omit to confess their 

sins, 316. 



The beginning of the mission, 328. Various exercises, 
332. Rules of conduct for the Fathers on missions, 338. 





Original sin, 359. Actual sins, 361. Conclusion, 363. 




I. Faith, 368. 

What is faith, and what is the Church, 368. What is the 



motive of faith, and how shall we make an act of faith, 
369. What are the principal articles of faith, 370. Which 
are the things that we must know and believe as necessary 
by necessity of means, and others by necessity of precept, 
371. Which are the proofs of the truth of our faith, 375. 
Practical conclusions, 379. 
II. Hope, 379. 

What is hope, 379. What is the object of hope, 379. 
What is the motive of hope, 379. How is the Blessed Vir 
gin our hope, 380. How do we sin against hope, 380. 
How do we make an act of hope, 381. 

III. Charity, 382. 

What is charity, 382. What is the motive of charity, 
383. When should we make acts of charity or love of 
God, 383. When should we make acts of love for our 
neighbor, 384. 

IV. Acts of faith, hope, and charity, 385. 
V. Prayer, 388. 

Necessity and efficacy of prayer, 388. Qualities of prayer 
that it may be efficacious, 389. 

VI. Charity to our neighbor, 390. What order is to be observed 
in our charity to our neighbor, 390. Whom should we 
love as our neighbor, 391. What are our duties toward 
our neighbor, 393. 
VII. Religion, 402. 

What is religion, 402. What is superstition, 402. What 
is irreligion, 404. 


I. Blasphemy, 405. 

What is blasphemy, 405. How great is the sin of blas 
phemy, 408. Exhortation, 410. 
II. Oaths, 412. 

What is an oath, 412. How many kinds of oaths are 
there, 413. When does one sin on account of an oath, 
413- When does the obligation of an oath cease, 415. 
III. The vow, 415. 

^ What is a vow, 416. When does the delay in the execu 
tion of a vow become a mortal sin, 417. How does the 
obligation of the vow cease, 417. 


I. The obligation of abstaining from servile works, 420. 

How many kinds of works are there, 420. Which are the 

Contents. 9 


works forbidden on festivals, 421. What causes pain and 
servile work on a holiday, 422. Conclusion. 423- 

II. Obligation of hearing Mass, 425. 

What is Mass, and how should one hear it, 425. What 
sin is it if one is absent from a part of Mass, 42?- Where 
should one be to hear Mass, 428. What are the causes that 
excuse from the obligation of hearing Mass, 429- Why have 
festivals been instituted, and how should we use them, 431. 
III. Fasting on Vigils and during Lent, 433. 

What must be done in regard to fasting, 433. 

I. The obligation of children towards their parents, 436. 

How does any one sin against the love that he owes to 
his parents, or against filial piety, 436- How does one s 
against the respect due to one s parents, 4391 and a S ams 
obedience, 441. 
II. Obligation of parents towards their children, 445- 

In regard to sustenance of their children. 445. 1" reg 
to their education, 446. How parents sin in regard to the 
education of their children, 448. Rule of life for a father 
of a family, 45 1- 

III. Obligation of masters, servants, and married pers 

What does the fifth commandment forbid, 459- Is ^ a1 
lowed to destroy one s life, to desire one s death, or to injure 
one s health, 400. Which -are the causes that permit the kill 
ing of any one, 462. How does one sin by causing abortion, 
and by exposing the life of an infant, 463- Is k also a sin to 
wish evil to one s neighbor, 464. 

What is one obliged to confess in the matter of impurity, 
466 What distinction is to be made in regard to bad thoughts, 
467. Is impurity a great evil, 470. Which are the remedie 
against impure temptations, 473. 


I. Theft, 483. 

What is theft, 483. Is theft a great sin, 484. Who are 
those that sin against the seventh commandment, 484. 
II. Restitution, 492. 

What obligation is there of making restitution, 492. Can 
one defer making restitution, 492. What must he do that 

io Contents. 


has not the means to make restitution, 494. Can one make 
restitution by having Masses said, 496. Conclusion, 497. 

What does this commandment forbid in the first place, 
500; and in the second place, 502. What is detraction, 502, 
What are the different ways of sinning by detraction, 503. 
How are we to repair the evil caused by detraction, 504. Is 
it also a sin to listen to detraction, 506. What does this 
commandment forbid in the third place, 506. 

The six principal commandments of the Church expressed 
in verse, 509. 







I. Examination of conscience, 525. 

II. Sorrow or contrition, 530. 

III. Purpose of sinning no more, 539. 

IV. Confession, 546. 

V. The penance imposed by the confessor, 558. 

MONY > 563 




a riling. 


WE have gathered in this volume all that has refer 
ence to the holy ministry of preaching, its importance, 
the good that it accomplishes, and the manner of ex 
ercising it, so that the greatest amount of fruit may be 
derived from it. In regard to the ministry of preach 
ing, we must distinguish its three parts, namely: the 
first has for its object PREACHING IN GENERAL, its neces 
sity from a point of view of divine Providence, and the 
manner in which one should preach in order to make 
preaching successful under all circumstances; the second 
regards the MISSIONS, their various exercises, and the 
means that one should employ to make them a success; 
the third is INSTRUCTION, or the,Large Catechism, which 
one should use while giving it, and the best method 
that should be followed in order to interest, to en 
lighten, and to move others, either during the mission 
or at any other time. 

We shall not fail to remark the persistency with which 
our holy Doctor recommends on every occasion natural 
simplicity of language, and reprobates every expression 
that savors of grandiloquence, studied eloquence, or any 
pretension to elegance. This is a rule that he rigor 
ously imposed upon all those that lived under his author 
ity; he himself always followed this rule, not only in his 
discourses, but also in all his writings. 

St. Alphonsus, in preaching and in having others to 
preach in this manner, which is joined to the practice 
of all the virtues that make men truly apostolic, has 
effected and does not cease to effect through his chil- 

T ^ Notice. 

dren an immense deal of good. With feelings of grati 
tude to God, he thus congratulates himself in a circular 
addressed to the worthy companions of his labors, who 
had been formed after his school; 

"My dearest Brothers in Jesus Christ: The principal 
thing that T recommend to you is the love of Jesus 
Christ. Very much are we bound to love him. For this 
end he has chosen us from all eternity, and called us 
into his Congregation, there to love him, and to make 
others also love him. What greater honor, what greater 
mark of love, could Jesus Christ have shown us ? He 
has snatched us from the midst of the world, in order 
to draw us to his love, and that, during the pilgrimage 
of this life, by which we must pass into eternity, we 
might think of nothing but of pleasing him, and of 
bringing those crowds of people to love him who every 
year, by means of our ministry, abandon sin, and return 
to the grace of God. It is generally the case that when 
we begin a mission the greater number of the people of 
the place are at enmity with God, and deprived of his 
love; but five or six days have scarcely elapsed when, 
behold, numbers, as if roused from a deep sleep, begin 
to listen to the exhortations, the instructions, and the 
sermons; and when they see that God offers them his 
mercy, they begin to weep over their sins, and conceive 
the desire of being reconciled with him; the way of par 
don is opened before them, and seeing it, they begin to 
abhor that manner of life which they had previously 
loved; a new light begins to shine upon them, and a 
peace hitherto unknown touches their hearts. Then 
they think of going to confession, to remove from their 
souls those vices which kept them separated from God; 
and whereas before a Mass of a quarter of an hour ap 
peared to them too long, five decades of the Rosary too 
tedious, and a sermon of half an hour unendurable, 
they now gladly hear a second and a third Mass, and 

Notice. 1 5 

they are sorry when the sermon, which has lasted an 
hour and a half, or perhaps two hours, is over. And of 
whom does the Lord make use, if not of us, to work so 
wondrous changes, and to bring the people to delight 
in those very things that before they despised ? When 
the mission is over, we leave in the place two or three 
thousand persons who love Almighty God, who before 
were living at enmity with him, and who were not even 
thinking of recovering his grace." 

And while, on the one hand, the holy Founder of an 
Order which is altogether apostolic has accomplished 
and is still accomplishing so much good by his word; 
on the other hand, by his admirable writings, which 
have raised him to the rank of Doctor of the universal 
Church, he does not cease to preach, every day, with 
the greatest fruit, to a countless number of souls in all 
parts of the world. ED. 


in 1761; as he was promoted to the episcopate only in 
the following year, the signature of bishop, which we 
see at the end of the letter, was added after that period. 
It is a complete dissertation on the matter and the form 
required in pulpit oratory, for mission sermons, for ser 
mons preached in Lent and on Sundays, for panegyrics, 
or simple instructions and catechetical instructions. 

" He took care to send it," says Tannoia (B. 2, ch. 
50), " to the General Superiors of the religious Orders, 
and all admired the high degree of sacred eloquence 
that he possessed, as well as the zeal with which he 
tried to induce preachers, to preach Jesus Christ, and not 
to preach themselves." 

He also sent copies of this letter to a large number of 
bishops, and added to it a note, dated May 10, 1761, in 
which he thus expresses himself: " I feel great pain 
when I see so many poor ignorant people who listen 
to sermons, but derive very little fruit therefrom; and 
this because of preachers who use an elevated and a 
florid style, and disdain to lower themselves to break 
to them the bread of the divine word. It is this that 
has determined me to publish the present letter, which 
I have the honor to send to your Lordship. I beg you 
you to read it, and to have it afterwards read by the 
priests of the diocese who are engaged in preaching. I 
would also ask you to send it to the convents of relig 
ious priests, and to recommend it to the Superiors to 
have it read by those that preach. You would also do 
me a favor if you asked those to read the letter who 
come to preach the sermons during Advent and during 
Lent. It is true that the latter bring with them their 
sermons prepared; but who knows whether by reading 
it they would not correct themselves in the future, and 
think of the great account that those preachers will have 
to render to God who do not make themselves under 
stood by poor ignorant people ?" (Villecourt, 1. 6, p. 4, 
ch. 3, a. 8.) 

All that we read above shows the importance that our 
illustrious Doctor attaches to this letter. ED. 

H Cettcr to a fidigions, 


Live Jesus, Mary, and Joseph ! 

I HAVE received your esteemed letter, in which you 
say that what I have written in the Sclva, or Collection 
of Materials, 1 for the spiritual exercises of priests, on the 
style to be employed in sermons preached for congre 
gations consisting both of the illiterate and the learned, 
has been criticised by a distinguished literary character. 
In the Sclva I have asserted that the style of all sermons 
preached before the ignorant and the learned should be 
simple and popular. My critic, you say, maintains that, 
though sacred orators should preach in a clear and or 
derly manner, they should never condescend to speak 
in a popular style; because, according to him, such a 
style is unworthy of the dignity of the pulpit and de 
grading to the word of God. This proposition has 
astonished me; but, to speak with the sincerity of a 
friend, what you have added has scandalized me. The 
objections of my critic, you say, appear somewhat rea 
sonable to you, because a sermon should have all the 
properties of a discourse, and it is admitted that one of 
the most essential is to delight the audience; and there 
fore, when the audience consists both of the ignorant 
and the learned, the sacred orator should not, by a low, 

1 Dignity and duties of the priest, or Selva, vol. xii. p. 265. 

1 8 Letter to a Religious 

popular style, disgust the latter, who are the respectable 
part of his hearers, but should speak in a manner calcu 
lated to please and delight them. 

Now, to explain fully my sentiments on this point, 
which I shall show are the sentiments of all wise and 
pious men, and to answer every objection that can be 
proposed against my opinion, it will be necessary to 
repeat much of what has been already written in the 

It cannot be doubted that by preaching the world has 
been converted from paganism to the faith of Jesus 
Christ. How, says the Apostle, shall they hear without a 
preacher ? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the 
word of God. 1 As the faith has been propagated, so it 
has been preserved by preaching, and so are Christians 
induced by preaching to live according to the maxims 
of the Gospel: for it is not enough for the faithful to 
know what they must do in order to be saved ; it is, 
moreover, necessary for them, by hearing the word of 
God, to be reminded of the eternal truths and of their 
obligations, and also to adopt the means of obtaining 
eternal life. Hence St. Paul commanded Timothy con 
tinually to instruct and admonish the flock committed 
to his care: Preach the word, be instant in season, out of 
season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine? 1 
Hence also the Lord addressed the same command to 
the prophet Isaias: Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a 
trumpet, and shew My people their wicked doings? And 
again he said to Jeremias, Behold I have given My words 
in thy mouth: Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations, 

1 " Quomodo autem audient sine praedicante ? . . . Ergo fides ex au- 
ditu, auditus autem per verbum Christi." Rom. x. 14-17. 

2 " Prsedica verbum, insta opportune, importune, argue, obsccra, 
increpa in omni patientia et doctrina." 2 Tim. iv. 2. 

3 " Clama, ne cesses, quasi tuba exalta vocem tuam, et annuntia 
populo meo peccata eorum." Isa. Iviii. i. 

on the Manner of Treadling. 19 

and over kingdoms, to root up, and to destroy, etc. 1 Jesus 
Christ has imposed the same obligation on his apostles, 
and through them on all priests who are called to the 
office of preaching. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: 
. . , to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you? 
And if, through the fault of those who are bound to 
announce the divine word, a sinner perish, God will 
demand an account of his soul at their hands. If, when 
I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, thou declare it not 
to him, nor speak to him, that he may be converted from his 
wicked way, and live, the same wicked man shall die in his 
iniquity, but I will require his blood at thy hand. 3 

But let us come to the point. My proposition is that, 
when the audience is composed of the learned and of 
the ignorant, the style of the sermon (I do not here 
speak of funeral orations or of panegyrics of these I 
shall say something hereafter) should be simple and 
popular. This proposition is not mine only: it is that 
of the celebrated Louis Muratori, who is regarded as 
one of the first literary characters of the day. It cannot 
be said that such a man censured a lofty and polished 
style because he was but little acquainted with it; for 
the whole world knows that he was a man of great 
genius, and of extraordinary literary acquirements. In 
his golden book on popular eloquence which is in the 
hands of every one, he asserts, and proves most learn 
edly, the proposition that I have laid down. 

But, to confirm my assertion, I shall take many re 
flections from other authors, and particularly from the 

" Ecce dedi verba mea in ore tuo; ecce constitui te hodie super 
gentes et super regna, ut evellas, et destruas, etc." fer. i. 9. 

" Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes; servare omnia quaecumque 
mandavi vobis." Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. 

"Si, dicente me ad impium: Morte morieris; non annuntiaverit ei 
. . , ipse impius in iniquitate sua morietur, sanguinem autem ejus 
de manu tua requiram " Ezech. iii. 18. 

2O Letter to a Religions 

holy Fathers; and I entreat you, and every one into 
whose hands this book shall fall, to read the whole of it; 
for it contains a great deal of matter most useful for 
those that are engaged in preaching, and that are 
desirous of gaining souls to Jesus Christ. St. Basil 
says: "The sacred school does not follow the precepts 
of the rhetoricians." 1 The saint does not mean to say 
that the sacred orator should not employ the art of 
rhetoric in his sermons, but that he should not imitate 
the empty eloquence of the ancient rhetoricians, who 
in their orations sought only their own glory. It is not 
denied that we should avail ourselves of the rules of 
rhetoric in all our sermons. But what, I ask, is the 
principal end that every preacher should propose to 
himself in using the art of oratory? Certainly he 
should have no other object in view than to persuade 
and to induce the people to practise what he preaches. 
Such is the doctrine of the learned Marquis Orsi, who, 
in a letter to Father Platina, says: " Let eloquence be 
employed to move rather than to delight; for to move 
is the same thing as to persuade, which is the only 
object of the art." In his work on popular eloquence 
Muratori says that " rhetoric is necessary, not to fill 
sermons with flowers, but to teach the method of per 
suading and of moving." I shall occasionally take pas 
sages from this book; because the opinions of so great 
a man cannot, like mine, be treated with contempt. In 
his life of the younger Father Segneri he says: " Good 
rhetoric is nothing else than a perfect imitation of the 
natural and popular method of reasoning with others, 
and of persuading, everything superfluous being re 
moved. The more the reasoning .of the sacred orator 
is natural and intelligible, not to the few men of learn 
ing who may be present, but to the people to whom 

"Sacra schola praecepta rhetorum non sequitur." In Gordium 

on the 1\ Manner of Preaching. 2 1 

he speaks, the more effective will be his eloquence." 
Speaking of the style to be adopted by the preacher of 
the divine word, St. Augustine says: "Let him try as 
much as possible to be understood, and to be listened 
to with docility." J St. Thomas says, " that the preacher 
whose principal object is to show his eloquence, does 
not so much intend to induce the people to practise 
what he teaches, as to imitate himself in the elegance of 
his language." 2 

The language of sermons preached before mixed con 
gregations should be so plain and simple that the audi 
ence may clearly understand all that is said, and may be 
moved to practise all that is taught. Hence the preacher 
should avoid two things: loftiness of thought and super 
fluous elegance of language. 

With regard to the first, would to God that Superiors 
would imitate the example of St. Philip Neri. It is re 
lated in his life that he commanded those who gave in 
structions to the people to speak on subjects that are 
useful and popular, and never to enter into scholastic 
questions, or to seek after sublime conceptions. Hence 
when he heard the members of his Congregation intro 
duce subjects that were too subtle or curious, he made 
them descend from the pulpit, even though they were in 
the middle of the sermon. Finally, he exhorted all to 
employ their eloquence in showing, in a plain and easy 
style, the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice. 
Of some preachers we may say, with the prophet Isaias, 
Who are these that fly as clouds ? 3 And as lofty clouds sel 
dom forebode rain, so, from the sermons of those that 

" Aget quantum potest ut intelligatur, et obedienter audiatur."- 
De Doct. Christ. 1. 4, c. 15, n. 32. 

2 " Qui eloquentise principaliter studet, homines non intendit in- 
ducere ad imitationem eorum quse dicit, sed dicentis." Optisc. cap. 
xix. 19, 

3 " Qui sunt isti, qui ut nubes volant ?" Is. Ix. 8. 

22 Letter to a Religions 

preach in a lofty style it cannot be hoped that the 
waters of salvation will ever flow. Hence the holy 
Council of Trent has commanded all parish priests to 
preach in a style accommodated to the capacity of their 
flock. " Archpriests, . . . either personally, or by others 
who are competent, shall feed the people committed to 
them with wholesome words, according to their own 
capacity." 1 Hence also the celebrated Muratori wisely 
observes, " The preacher must speak to the people in 
the language in which a man of learning would endeavor 
to persuade a peasant, and thus he will make an impres 
sion on the learned as well as on the ignorant." 

Except, says St. Paul, you utter by the tongue plain speech, 
how shall it be known what is said ? For you shall be speak 
ing unto the air. 1 Hence, according to the Apostle, they 
that preach in language not easily understood by the 
people, only speak to the air. But, alas ! how many 
preachers are there that labor hard, through a miserable 
desire of acquiring the praises of their hearers, to fill 
their sermons with sublime conceptions and subtle 
thoughts, unintelligible to the people, and recite their 
discourses in the tone and manner of a comedian ? 
What fruit can such preachers expect from their in 
structions ? Louis of Grenada says that the ruin of the 
world is to be ascribed to this crying evil, that the greater 
number of preachers seek applause rather than the glory 
of God and the salvation of souls. 3 Would to God it 
were not too true ! And Father John d Avila, in one of 
his letters, in which he describes the miseries and ini- 

" Archypresbyteri, etc., per se, vel alios idoneos, plebes sibi com- 
missas pro earum capacitate pascent salutaribus verbis." Sess. 5, de 
Rcf. c. ii. 

" Nisi manifestum sermonem dederitis, quomodo scietur id quod 
dicitur? eritis enim in aera loquentes." i Cor. xiv. 9. 

"Maxima praedicatorum turba majorem nominis sui celebrandi, 
quam divinae gloriae et salutis humanae procurandae curam habent." 
Eccl. Rhet. 1. i, c. 6. 

on the Manner of Preaching. 23 

quities of the world, says : " There is no remedy for so 
great an evil, principally on account of the preachers, 
who are the medicine of these wounds; but such dan 
gerous diseases are not cured by the soft lenitives of 
polished and delicate discourses they require strokes 
of fire." One would imagine that some of those lofty 
preachers study to make themselves unintelligible, or 
rather, as Muratori says, that they are ashamed to speak 
in language that all can understand. The little ones, 
says the prophet Jeremias, have asked for bread, and there 
was no one to break it unto them. 1 In his comment on this 
passage, St. Bonaventure says, 2 that the bread of the 
divine word is not to be divided in a manner calculated 
to indulge curiosity, but must be broken in small pieces 
on which the little ones may feast. What profit can the 
poor and illiterate derive from sublime conceptions, 
from irrelevant erudition, or from long descriptions of 
a tempest or of a pleasant garden, the study of which 
has cost the preacher a week s labor, though the entire 
discourse does not last longer than a quarter of an hour? 

And here let it be observed that lofty thoughts and 
ingenious reflections, or facts of a curious and distract 
ing nature, though they may please the learned, still 
injure the effect of the sermon; for, as Muratori well 
observes, he that understands them dwells with delight 
on the sublimity of the thoughts or on the novelty of 
the facts, and does not attend to his own spiritual profit: 
thus the will is not affected, and no fruit is produced. 

It was not in a lofty style that St. Paul preached to 
the Corinthians: And I, brethren, when I came to you, 2 
came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto 
you the testimony of Christ; for I judged not myself to know 

1 " Parvuli petierunt panem, et non erat qui frangeret eis." Lam 
iv. 4. 

2 " Panis frangendus, non curiose scindendus." 

24 Letter to a Religious 

anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified 
I, brethren, in preaching to you, have not had recourse 
to sublime discourses, or to human wisdom: I have 
desired only to know Jesus Christ crucified; that is, 
that all our hope and our salvation consists in imitating 
his sorrows and his ignominies. The sentiments of 
Natalis Alexander on this passage of St. Paul are 
worthy of attention: "It is not to be wondered at 
that most preachers derive no fruit, since they make 
their preaching consist in the artifice of secular elo 
quence, in measured periods, in excessive ornament of 
words and flights of human reason. They do not teach 
the. Gospel, but their own inventions; they know not 
Jesus crucified, but rather propose to themselves the 
imitation of academic orators than that of the apostles 
and of apostolic men. Let the humility of the preacher 
accompany the simplicity of the sermon, of which 
Christian eloquence is not altogether deprived, which 
is adorned with a natural, not a counterfeit, beauty. 
Let him fear lest by his pride, and by the captivation of 
human glory and applause, and by the ostentation of 
eloquence he may hinder the work of God. The fewer, 
continues the learned author, the ornaments of secular 
eloquence the preacher employs, and the less his confi 
dence in human means, the more fruitful will his ser 
mons be in converting sinners." 2 

1 " Et ego, cum venissem ad vos, fratres, veni non in sublimitate 
sermonis aut sapientiae, annuntians vobis testimonium Christi. Non 
enim judicavi me scire aliquid inter vos, nisi Jesum Christum, et hunc 
crucifixum." i Cor. ii. I. 

2 " Quid mirum, si nullum fructum faciunt plerique qui praedicationem 
in eloquentiae saecularis artificio, in periodorum commensuratione, in 
verborum lenociniis humanaeque rationis excursibus collocant. Evan- 
gelium non decent, sed inventa sua, Jesum crucifixum nesciunt, aca- 
demicos oratores lubentius sibi proponunt imitandos quam apostolos, 
et apostolicos viros. Simplicitatem sermonis, non penitus Christiana 
destitutam eloquentia, naturali decore ornatam, non fucatam, comitetur 

on the Manner of Preaching. 25 

The learned and celebrated missionary, Father Jerome 
Sparano, of the venerable Congregation of the Pious 
Workmen, used to compare those that preach in a lofty 
and florid style to artificial fireworks, which, while they 
last, make a great noise, but leave after them only a 
little smoke. St. Teresa 1 then had just reason to say 
that the sacred orator who preaches himself does great 
injury to the Church. "The apostles," she would say, 
"though few, have converted the world; because they 
preached with simplicity and with the true spirit of God, 
and now so many preachers produce but little fruit." 
And why ? " Because," says the saint, " the preachers 
of the present time have too much of human wisdom 
and human respect, and therefore few only of their 
hearers give up the habits of vice." St. Thomas of 
Villanova says: " Many preachers there are, but few that 
preach as they should." a Philip Neri used to say: " Give 
me ten priests with the true spirit of the apostles, and I 
will convert the whole world." 

By the mouth of the prophet Jeremias the Lord asks: 
Why then is not the wound of the daughter of My people 
healed? * In his exposition of this passage St. Jerome 
answers: " Because there are not priests to apply the 
necessary remedy." Speaking of preachers who adul 
terate his word, the Lord says, in another place: If 

humilitas concionatoris. Timeat ne superbia sua gloriae humanre 
plaususque captatione, ac ostentatione eloquentiae Dei opus imped iat. 
Quo major ejus humilitas, quo minor in mediis humanis fiducia, minor 
eloquentiae secularis affectatio, eo major spiritui etvirtuti Dei ad con- 
versionem animarum locus datur." 

1 Lift\ ch ; xvi. 

2 " Multi praedicatores, sed pauci qui predicant ut oportet." /// tile 
Pi titcc. cone. 2. 

3 " Quare igitur non est obducta cicatrix filiae populi mei ?" -/<;-. 
viii. 2. 

" Eo quod non sunt sacerdotes, quorum debeant curari medi- 

26 Letter to a Religious 

they had stood in My counsel and had made My words known 
to My people, I should have turned them from, their evil way 
and their wicked doings. 1 " They would," says Cardinal 
Hugo, commenting on this passage, " have made known 
My words, not their own." Preachers who speak not in 
simple language, preach not the word of God, but their 
own; and therefore, says the Lord, sinners remain in 
their wicked ways. O God ! what an abuse is it to see 
sometimes religious, even of the reformed Orders, who, 
from their penitential garments, and from the appear 
ance of their mortified lives, seem to breathe zeal and 
sanctity, and from whom the people expect to hear 
sentiments and words burning with divine love; what 
an abuse, I say, is it to see such religious ascend the 
pulpit, and deliver a discourse which is only a collection 
of ingenious thoughts, of descriptions, of antitheses and 
of other such trifles, of inflated language and rounded 
periods, which the hearers scarcely understand, and 
from which they derive no benefit ! What a pity to see 
so many of the poor come to learn the means of saving 
their souls, and obliged, after listening to the preacher 
for more than an hour, to go away without having 
understood any part of the sermon ! They return home 
as ignorant as before, and full of discontent at having 
spent so much time in attending to a discourse which 
they could not understand. 

Those orators who preach themselves, and are not 
understood by their audience, sometimes say: "The 
people were all attentive to the discourse " I also say 
that the people were attentive; they wished to under 
stand the discourse, but have they understood it? 
Muratori says that he had seen .the poor listen with 
open mouths to panegyrics, of which they scarcely 
understood a single word. Hence it happens, that, hav- 

" Si stetissent in consilio meo, et nota fecissent verba mea popujo 
meo, avertissem utique eos a via sua mala." /< -. xxiii. 22. 

on the Manner of Preaching, 27 

ing found by experience that they do not understand 
the discourses preached in the Church, they become 
disgusted with religious discourses, they cease to attend 
to them, and thus become more and more obstinate in 
vice. Justly, then, has Father Gaspar Sanchez called 
those who do not preach in a simple style the greatest 
persecutors of the Church; for, in reality, there cannot 
be a greater persecution or evil that can befall the 
people than the adulteration of the word of God; for, 
when mixed up with flowers and trifles, it is either not 
understood, or is at least deprived of its efficacy; so 
that it cannot give to the people the light and help 
which they might receive from it. 

Secondly, the preacher should employ words that arc 
in common use, and should avoid those that are not 
understood by the illiterate. Preachers of long stand 
ing and of high character must be particularly careful 
to use language easily understood by the people ; for, 
should they speak in a polished style, young preachers, 
being naturally desirous of applause, will study to imi 
tate them. Thus the abuse will be more widely extended, 
and the poor will be deprived of the fruit of the word 
of God. St. Jerome compares vain preachers, who em 
ploy only sounding and polished words, to women who 
by their vain ornaments please men, but do not please 
God. 1 

But Father Bandiera, in the preface of his Gcrotri- 
camcrone, controverts the opinion of those who maintain 
that in sermons a selection of words, and careful atten 
tion to the collocation necessary for elegant diction, do 
not edify the people, but, on the contrary, destroy the 
simplicity suited to spiritual subjects, and take up the 
preacher s time in the study of empty words. He as- 

" Effeminatae quippe sunt eorum magistrorum animse qui semper 
sonantia componunt, et nihil virile, nihil Deo dignum est in iis." In 
Ezt-c/i. Jioni. 3. 

28 Letter to a Religious 

serts that ornaments of style throw a splendor round 
spiritual subjects, such as the maxims of faith, the 
beauty of virtue, and the deformity of vice. He says 
that the holy Fathers employed these ornaments, and 
that without their aid the word of God cannot be 
preached with dignity from the pulpit. He also adds, 
that some persons censure select language as unsuited 
and injurious to devotion, because they themselves have 
not a command of polished expression. To remove 
every erroneous impression that might be made on the 
minds of his readers I shall answer his arguments and 
refute his assertions. 

First; I cannot conceive what could have induced 
Father Bandiera to give expression to so unreasonable 
sentiments in his preface; for in the body of his work 
he says that, when the greater part of the audience con 
sists of the poor, the style of the sermon should be easy 
and simple, and that sometimes it should be low, when 
otherwise the hearers would not derive profit from the 
discourse. He also says that the style of academic 
discourses is very different from that of sermons. He 
adds that preachers who, in their instructions, should 
adopt the style of his own work, would act improperly. 
He then agrees in opinion with us, that, when the greater 
part of the audience is composed of the illiterate, the 
style of the sermon must, if the preacher wishes to pro 
duce fruit, be simple, and be accommodated to the capa 
city "of the hearers. What, then, has induced him to assert 
that the dignity of the divine word, delivered from the 
pulpit, requires the ornaments of style, and that those 
ornaments give splendor to spiritual things; or that 
some writers, because they themselves have not a com 
mand of language, censure, as injurious to devotion, a 
nice selection of words ? 

Let us now come to the refutation of the assertions of 
Father Bandiera: his opinion should be received with 

on the Manner of Preaching. 29 

caution, for, being an eminent professor of the Tuscan 
language, he may have been induced to adopt it by too 
great an attachment to eloquence of expression. He 
says that " it is necessary to give splendor to spiritual 
subjects." Such is not the language of St. Ambrose. 
This Father says that Christian preaching stands not 
in need of the pomp or elegance of words, and that 
therefore ignorant fishermen were chosen by the Lord 
to preach the Gospel, and to sow the word of God pure 
and unadulterated. 1 

Natalis Alexander answers Father Bandiera, and says 
that the word of God requires not affected and flowery 
ornaments, since it is adorned by the natural beauty 
which it contains in itself; and therefore the more 
simply it is expounded, the more luminous and splendid 
it appears. The words of the same author, which have 
been already quoted, are so appropriate, that I shall re 
peat them in this place: "Let the humility of the 
preacher accompany the simplicity of the sermon, of 
which Christian eloquence is not altogether deprived, 
which is adorned with a natural, not a counterfeit, 
beauty. . . . The fewer the ornaments of secular elo 
quence the preacher employs, and the less his confidence 
in human means, the more fruitful will his sermons be 
in converting sinners." 5 Thus the more purely and 
nakedly the word of God is preached, the more forcibly 
it strikes the hearts of the hearers; for, according to the 
Apostle, it is in itself living and effective; so that it is 

" Praedicatio Christiana non indiget pompa et cultu sermonis; 
ideoque piscatores, homines imperiti, elect! sunt qui evangelizarent." 
In i Cor. I. 

* " Simplicitatem sermonis non penitus Christiana destitutam elo- 
quentia naturali decore ornatam, non fucatam, comitetur humilitascon- 
cionatoris. . . . Quo minor in mediis humanis fiducia, minor elo- 
quentiae saecularis affectatio, eo major spiritui et virtuti Dei ad con - 
versionem animarum locus datur. " 

30 Letter to a Religious 

more piercing than a two-edged sword. 1 And God 
himself, by the mouth of the prophet Jeremias, has de 
clared that his word is a fire which inflames, and a 
hammer which breaks the rock in pieces that is, the 
most hardened hearts: Are not My words as a fire, saith 
the Lord : and as a hammer thatbreaketh the rock in pieces!* 

Let us examine the sentiments of the author of 
the Imperfect Work on this subject. " The word of 
God," he says, " though simple and popular, is in 
itself living, and gives life to those who hear it, be 
cause it contains in itself the truth of God, which 
persuades and moves the hearts of men; but human 
language, though polished and select, is, for want of 
God s co operation, dead, and therefore produces no 
fruit." a The learned Mansi says that when it is naked 
and divested of ornament the word of God strikes the 
heart, but adorned with flowers, it is like a sword within 
its scabbard it cannot cut. 

Father Bandiera asserts that the holy Fathers have in 
their writings employed the ornaments of style. In 
answer I say, that we have not heard the sermons of 
these Fathers, nor are we acquainted with their style of 
preaching. We only read their written discourses, and 
we know that sermons which were preached in a simple 

1 " Vivus est sermo Dei, et efficax, et penetrabilior omni giadio 
ancipiti." Heb. iv. 12. 

2 " Numquid non verba mea quasi ignis, dicit Dominus, et quasi 
malleus conterens petram ?" -Jcr. xxiii. 29. 

3 " Omnia verba divina quamvis rustica sint et incomposita, viva 
sunt, quoniam intus habeant veritatem Dei et ideo vivificant audientem. 
Omnia autem verba secularia quoniam non habent in se virtutem Dei, 
quamvis sint composita et ingeniosa, mortua sunt; propterea nee audi 
entem salvant." Horn. 46. 

4 " Sicut gladius ferire nequit, nisi si nudus; nam intra vaginam 
constitutus quantumvis sit acutus non vulnerabit: ita verbum Dei, ut 
impiorum corda vulneret, nudum esse debet, sine figurarurn ornamento, 
aut vanae eloquentiae floribus." "Biblioth. mor. tr. 83, d. ir. 

on the Manner of Preaching, 31 

and popular style are usually polished before they are 
committed to writing or given to the public. This re 
mark has been made by the celebrated Muratori. " It is," 
he says, " true that St. Ambrose very frequently spoke 
in an abstruse manner; but we have not the sermons 
which he preached to the people." He reduced to trea 
tises the discourses delivered from the pulpit, and added 
to them various ornaments, so that the original form 
of his popular instructions has disappeared. But Mu 
ratori says that, in their sermons to the people, the most 
celebrated Fathers of the Church, namely, St. Basil, St. 
Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, 
St. Gregory the Great, St. Maximus, and St. Gaudentius, 
preferred popular to sublime eloquence; and this is evi 
dent, as well from the sermons as from the other works 
of these saints. Let us hear how St. John Chrysostom 
speaks of sermons embellished with pompous words and 
well-turned periods: " We seek by those words and 
beautiful compositions to delight our neighbors. We 
try to be admired, but we are not anxious to heal the 
diseases of our neighbors." l And he adds, that the 
preacher who studies to delight others and to attract 
admiration by elegant compositions should be denomi 
nated "Miserable and unhappy traitor." 2 St. Augus 
tine says: "We do not make use of high-sounding and 
poetical words of secular eloquence, but we preach 
Christ crucified." z 

Father John d Avila used to say, that every preacher 
should ascend the pulpit with a thirst for the salvation 
of souls, which would make him endeavor and hope, 

1 " Iljiecnos patimur, verborum fucos conqvuerentes, etcompositionem 
elegantem, ut delectemus proximum. Consideramus quomodo videamur 
admirabiles, non quomodo morbos componamus." Hotn. 33, ad pop. 

2 " Miser et infelix proditor. " Ad pop. ant. hom. 33. 

3 " Non nos tonantia et poetica verba proferimus nee eloquentia 
utimur secular! sermone fucata, sed prsedicamus Christum crudfixum." 

32 Letter to a Religious 

with the divine aid, to gain to God the souls of all his 
hearers. Hence St. Gregory says that the sacred orator 
should descend to the level and should accommodate 
his language to the weak understanding of the people. 1 
This is the doctrine of Muratori, who says that every 
one who preaches to the illiterate "ought to imagine 
that he is one of them, and that he wishes to teach and 
convince them of some truth." And therefore he says 
he is bound to adopt the most popular and lowest kind 
of eloquence, and to proportion his language to their 
gross understandings, by speaking to them in a familiar 
manner, using short sentences, and sometimes even pro 
posing questions and giving the answers. The merit of 
such sermons consists in employing the language and 
figures which usually make an impression in common 

St. Gregory deemed it unworthy of a preacher of the 
Gospel to confine himself to the rules of grammar, and 
therefore he says that in his sermons he frequently 
exposed himself to the imputation of ignorance, by 
uttering even barbarisms. 3 In his exposition of the 
words of David, My bone is not hid from Thee, which 
Thou hast made in secret? St. Augustine, knowing that 
the word os signified either the mouth or a bone, used 
the barbarous word ossum to express the meaning of the 
prophet ; for he preferred to be censured by gram 
marians rather than to be unintelligible to the people. 4 

1 " Debet ad infirmitatem audientium semetipsum contrahendo des- 
cendere, ne dum parvis sublimia, et idcirco non profutura loquitur, 
magis curet se ostendere quam auditoribus prodesse." Mor. 1. 20, c. i. 

8 " Non barbarismi confusionem devito, etiam prsepositionum casus 
servare contemno, quia indignum existimo ut verba coelestis oraculi 
r estringam sub regulis Donati." Ep. ad Leandr. in Expos. L Job. 

3 "Non est occultatum os meum a te, quod fecisti in me." Ps. 
cxxxviii. 15. 

4 " Habeo in abscondito quoddam ossum. Sic potius loquamur, melius 
est ut reprehendant nos grammatici quam non intelligant populi." In 
Ps. 138, n. 20. 

on the Manner of Preaching. 33 

Such was the contempt of the saints for elegance of 
style when they spoke to the people. In the fourth 
book on the Christian Doctrine, the same Father says 
that the preacher should not be the servant of his words, 
and thus expose himself to the danger of not being 
understood ; but he should employ the language best 
calculated to convey his meaning and to persuade his 
hearers. 1 It is in this manner, as the prophet says, 
"bread is broken to the little ones." The little ones have 
asked for bread, and there was none to break it unto them? 
Hence the sermons of the missions and of the spiritual 
exercises produce so much fruit, because in them the 
bread of the divine word is minutely broken to the 

I may be asked: Do you mean that all sermons should 
be composed in the same style as the sermons for the 
missions? In answer, I in the first place ask: What is 
understood by sermons for the missions? Is it a dis 
course composed of vulgar expressions, without order 
and without method? No: vulgar phrases are not 
necessary; they are not becoming even in familiar in 
structions, much less in sermons. Order is indispensa 
ble in all sermons. The art of oratory, and the occa 
sional use of tropes and figures, are also necessary; and 
therefore you must have observed that, in the third part 
of the Selva? speaking of the style of preaching to be 
adopted in the missions, I have given a comprehensive 
abstract of rhetoric, for the instruction of the young 
men of our congregation. But the rules of rhetoric are, 
as Muratori says, suited even to popular eloquence, pro 
vided the preacher employ them, not to win applause, 

1 " In ipso sermone malit (concionator) placere rebus magis quam 
verbis; nee doctor verbis serviat, sed verba doctori." 

2 " Parvuli petierunt panem, et non erat qui frangeret eis." Lam. 
iv. 4. 

3 Farther on, in Chapter VII. of the present volume. 


34 Letter to a Religious 

but to move his hearers to lead a Christian life. The 
art of oratory should, adds Muratori, be used, but only 
in such a way that it may not be perceived by the 

There is no doubt that the sermons prepared for the 
missions should be more easy and simple, and less en 
cumbered with Latin quotations, than other discourses. 
Some young missionaries fill their sermons with a con 
fused medley of texts of Scripture, and long passages of 
the holy Fathers; but what profit can a poor illiterate 
peasant derive from so many Latin quotations, which he 
does not understand ? Texts of Scripture serve to give 
authority to our instructions, but only when they are 
few, and explained in a manner proportioned to the 
capacity of our audience. One text well expounded, 
and accompanied with appropriate moral reflections, 
will be more profitable than many passages heaped to 
gether. An occasional passage from the holy Fathers 
is also very useful; but it should be short and forcible, 
and peculiarly applicable to the subject. Look at the 
sermons of that celebrated preacher, the Venerable 
Father Paul Segneri, and you will find that they con 
tain few Latin passages, but a great many practical 
reflections and moral deductions. 

The style of preaching in the missions must certainly 
be more simple and popular, that the poor may be per 
suaded and moved to virtue. The language should be 
plain and the periods concise, so that a person may 
understand any sentence without having heard or under 
stood the preceding one, and that they who come to the 
church in the middle of the sermon may immediately 
understand what the preacher says. If the style of the 
sermon be close and connected, the illiterate, who have 
not heard the first period, will not understand the 
second, nor the third. Moreover, as Muratori well ob 
serves, in order to keep up the attention of the people 

on the Manner of Preaching. 35 

it is necessary to make frequent use of the figure called 
Anaphora, by proposing questions and replying to them. 
With regard to the modulation of the voice, it is neces 
sary to avoid the sonorous and inflated tones used in 
panegyric. We should also abstain from the violent 
efforts of the voice made by some missionaries, who 
expose themselves to the danger of bursting a blood 
vessel, or at least of losing their voice, and at the same 
time disgust their audience. The best way to excite 
and fix the attention of the people is, to speak at one 
time in a loud, at another in a low, tone of voice, but 
without violent and sudden transitions; at one time to 
make a long exclamation, at another to pause and after 
wards to begin with a sigh, etc. This variety of tone 
and manner keeps the audience always attentive. 

The act of contrition is the most important part of 
sermons for the mission, and therefore in such sermons 
it should never be omitted; for little indeed would be 
the fruit of the sermon if the people are not excited to 
compunction, or not induced to resolve on a change of 
life. It is to effect this object that the act of contrition 
is proposed to them. It is even necessary to repeat 
several acts of sorrow, in order to move the people to 
contrition, not by loud exclamations, but by solid mo 
tives and reasons. In the purpose of amendment which 
accompanies the act of sorrow the preacher should recom 
mend, in a particular manner, the people to avoid the 
occasions of sin, and to have recourse in their tempta 
tions to the assistance of Jesus and of Mary; and should 
therefore, at the end of the sermon, make them ask the 
divine Mother to obtain some favor for them, such as 
the pardon of sin, the gift of perseverance, and the like. 
These observations are particularly applicable to ser 
mons for the missions; but I wished to insert them in 
this place, because they may be useful to some of those 
who are devoted to the missions. 

36 Letter to a Religious 

Sermons for Lent, or for Sundays, should certainly 
differ somewhat from those that are prepared for the 
missions ; but, where the audience consists of the ig 
norant and the learned, all sermons should, as Muratori 
says, be simple and popular, if the preacher wish to 
produce substantial fruit, and to induce the people to 
approach the tribunal of penance. I remember that 
when a celebrated missionary preached in Naples, in a 
simple and popular style, the churches were thronged, 
"and the confessionals were surrounded by crowds, who, 
after the sermon, ran to confess their sins. Muratori 
says that in the small towns, and even in the churches of 
cities which are frequented by the common people, the 
preacher is obliged to adopt the most popular and even 
the lowest style, in order to accommodate himself to 
their gross understandings. I have seen a whole town 
sanctified by the Lenten sermons of those who ad 
dressed the people in simple and popular language. 

Oh, what a pity to see so many Lenten sermons 
preached in the villages, and so little fruit ! In the 
beginning of Lent the poor come to the sermons, but 
finding that they do not understand the preacher, and 
consequently derive no fruit from his instructions, they 
cease to frequent the church. I would entreat those 
who preach in the villages, that, if they will not consent 
to change the discourses which they have already com 
posed in an elevated style, they will at least, towards 
the last weeks of Lent, after the people return from 
work, give the spiritual exercises in the manner in 
which they are given during the missions. The labor 
ing poor cannot, particularly On working days, attend 
in the mornings at the hour at .which the sermon is 
usually preached. I assure these preachers that they 
will reap more fruit from the spiritual exercises pro 
posed in simple language, than from a hundred Lenten 
sermons. Some will excuse themselves from giving 

on the Manner of Preaching. 37 

these exercises, saying that they are preachers, and not 
missionaries. Some are perhaps even ashamed to give 
these exercises in which a simple and popular style is 
indispensably necessary, lest their reputation might be 
injured, or lest they should be regarded as preachers of 
little note. But I am consoled by the conviction that 
not only priests, but also many religious, are accustomed 
during the Lent to give these exercises with so much 
advantage to the people. 

Oh, what universal benefit would flow from the Sun 
day sermons if preachers always addressed the people in 
plain and simple language ! At Naples the Holy Sac 
rament is exposed every day in several churches, in 
particularly in those in which the devotion of the Forty 
Hours is performed. These churches are frequented by 
great numbers of the faithful, but particularly of the 
poor. How great would be the fruit of the sermons 
preached in these churches if the sacred orators adopted 
a popular style, instructing the people in the practice of 
the different virtues, in the practical method of preparing 
for Communion, in the manner of visiting the Blessed 
Sacrament, of making mental prayer, of attending Mass, 
of meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ, and of 
performing the other exercises of devotion ? But are 
the discourses delivered in their churches of this de 
scription? No; the style is generally high and flowery, 
and therefore they are but little understood by the peo 
ple. Father John d Avila being once asked for a rule 
for preaching, answered, that the best rule for preach 
ing well was to love Jesus Christ fervently. The an 
swer was most just; for the preacher who loves Jesus 
Christ ascends the pulpit, not to gain applause, but to 
gain souls to Jesus Christ. St. Thomas of Villanova 
used to say that to pierce the heart of sinners, to effect 
their conversion, darts burning with divine love are 
necessary. But can darts* of fire proceed from the 

38 Letter to a Religious 

frozen heart of the preacher who seeks by his preach 
ing to acquire a great name ? 

Should we then conclude from this that whoever then 
preaches in a polished style does not love Jesus Christ? 
I do not mean to assert that ; but I know well that the 
saints did not preach in that manner. In all the lives 
that I have read of holy missionaries I have not found 
any one of them commended because he preached in an 
elevated and ornate style ; I find, on the contrary, those 
commended in a special manner who preached in a style 
simple and popular. Thus in truth did the holy apostle 
Paul teach us by his own example how to preach, say 
ing: My reasoning consists not in the embellishments of human 
eloquence, but in making the people comprehend sincerely the 
truths of religion? " It was the task of the apostles," 
says Cornelius a Lapide, commenting on the text just 
cited, "to show how their spirit manifested the spirit of 
the divine mysteries so that others might receive the 
Holy Spirit through them." 2 

It is said of St. Thomas of Aquin, by the author of his 
life, that "he accommodated himself to the capacity of 
his audience, lowering the wings of his genius, pro 
posing simply such reflections as served to inflame the 
heart rather than feed the mind. For this purpose he 
used only such words as were most common and fa 
miliar, being accustomed to say: The language of the 
preacher should be so clear that the meanest capacity 
may understand it. " 

In the life of St. Vincent Ferrer we read that the saint 

1 " Et sermo meus et praedicatio mea non in persuasibilibus hu manse 
sapientiae verbis sed in ostensione spiritus et virtutis. " I Cor. ii. 4. 

2 " Haec fuit demonstratio Apostolorum ostendere spiritum eruc- 
tantem arcana divina, ita ut alii cernerent Spiritum Sanctum per os 
eorum loqui." 

3 " Tarn apertus debet esse sermo docentis, ut ab intelligentia sua 
nullos, quamvis imperitos, excludat," 

on the Marnier of Preaching. 39 

composed his sermons, not on the model of discourses 
written in select and studied language, but at the foot 
of the crucifix; and from this source he derived his elo 
quence. P. Bartoli writes as follows, in his life of St. 
Ignatius of Loyola: "Where others seek to recommend 
the word of God by clothing it with ornaments, he, by 
divesting it of all such elegance, made it appear beauti 
ful and grand; for his method was to reduce the argu 
ments to a certain nudity which exhibited them in their 
true form and genuine character." And therefore the 
same P. Bartoli relates that the learned who heard him 
were wont to say: "That in his mouth the word of God 
had its true weight." The same practice was observed 
by St. Philip Neri, of whom I already mentioned, as it is 
written in his life, that he prescribed to the members of 
his Congregation, in preaching, to treat each subject in 
an easy and popular manner; and when they indulged 
in lofty and curious speculations he made them come 
down from the pulpit. 

It is also mentioned of St. Francis de Sales, that when 
preaching he accommodated himself to the capacity of 
the rudest among his audience. The incident is well 
known which occurred to the Bishop of Belley. This 
prelate being invited by the saint to preach, delivered a 
very elegant and florid discourse, so that he received 
the highest applause from his auditors ; but St. Francis 
was silent, and the prelate, surprised at this, asked him 
at last how he liked the sermon, the saint replied: "You 
pleased all but one." The Bishop of Belley was invited 
a second time to preach, but as he understood that his 
former discourse was not pleasing to the saint, because 
it was too highly embellished, he made the second quite 
simple and moral; and then St. Francis assured him 
that he was very much pleased with the second dis 
course. On another occasion he addressed to him the 
following words: " A sermon is excellent when the audi- 

4<3 Letter to a Religious 

tors retire from the church in silence, reflecting but not 
speaking; and instead of praising the preacher, think 
on the necessity they are under of amending their 
lives." And as the saint thought, so did he practise. 
The author of his life states, that although he preached 
in Paris before an auditory composed of princes, bishops, 
and Cardinals, he always preached in a solid, simple 
manner, not seeking to acquire the character of an elo 
quent preacher, but to gain souls to God. In conformity 
with this, the same saint wrote from Paris to a religious 
of his Order in the following terms: "On the vigil of 
the Nativity I preached in presence of the Queen in the 
Church of the Capuchins; but I assure you I did not 
preach better before so many princes and princesses 
than I do in your poor little convent at Annecy." But 
because the saint preached from the heart and to draw 
souls to God, although he preached without ornament, 
the fruit he produced was immense; wherefore Madame 
de Montpensier said, as we find it related in the life of 
the saint: " Others in their sermons fly, as it were, in the 
air; but the Bishop of Geneva descends to his prey, and 
this orator of holy love suddenly besieges the heart, and 
makes himself master of it." 

I shall relate in the sequel what the saint wrote in one 
of his letters, concerning the manner of preaching, and 
what he thought of those preachers who employ frivo 
lous ornament in their discourses. It is mentioned in 
the life of St. Vincent de Paul that in his sermons he 
used not only a simple, but even an humble style. 
Above all, he required of his brethren that they should 
preach to the candidates for orders in a simple and 
familiar manner; because it is not, he said, pomp of 
that is conducive to the salvation of souls, 
simplicity and humility, which dispose the heart to 
recee the grace of God. And for this purpose he was 
omed to adduce the example of Jesus Christ, who, 

on the Manner of Preaching. 41 

although he could have explained the mysteries of faith 
in a style proportioned to their sublimity, he being the 
wisdom of the eternal Father, nevertheless made use of 
familiar terms and similitudes, to accommodate himself 
to the capacity of the people, and to leave to us the true 
model of explaining the word of God. Of St. Francis 
Regis it is likewise written in his life, "that he ex 
plained the truths of faith with such clearness and sim 
plicity, that he made himself intelligible to the meanest 

The case of Father Tauler, the Dominican, is also well 
known. He preached at first in a very lofty style, but 
being afterwards led to embrace a more perfect life, by 
means of a poor man who was sent him by God as his 
spiritual guide, he ceased to preach for many years; but 
the poor man having enjoined him to resume this func 
tion, he changed his style of preaching from the sublime 
to the popular; and we are told that in the first sermon 
he preached the compunction of the people was such 
that severat swooned away in the church. We are told 
of Father John d Avila, that in his sermons he used such 
familiar language that by some he was considered to be 
an ignorant person; so that once a certain individual, who 
was a man of letters, but of depraved morals, said to his 
companion, on an occasion when Father d Avila was to 
preach, "Come, let us go hear this ignoramus;" but 
during the sermon he was struck by the grace of God, 
and he totally reformed his life. Now let us hear the 
sentiments of this great servant of God. According to 
the author of his life, he said: " If the preacher does not 
faithfully fulfil his office, if he is attentive rather to grat 
ify the taste of his auditors than touch their hearts, and 
seeks for fine words rather than the conversion of souls: 
in fine, if by loftiness of thought he preaches himself 
rather than Jesus Christ, he stands in imminent danger 
of eternal ruin; he frightfully abuses and betrays the 

42 Letter to a Religious 

commission confided to him." The same we find written 
in the life of Father Louis Lanusa, and of Father Paul 
Segneri, junior, and of other servants of God, particular 
mention of whom for brevity s sake I omit. 

Hence we see the account that these preachers will 
have to render to God, who preach themselves and not 
Jesus Christ, as well as the Superiors who allow them 
to preach in this manner. For myself, once hearing a 
young man of our Congregation preaching in a grand 
and elevated style, I made him leave the pulpit in the 
middle of his discourse. But let them not entertain a 
doubt that, if they are not corrected by their Superiors, 
they will be assuredly chastised by God; for the preacher 
is bound to promote the good of each person who hears 
him, as in the pulpit he fulfils the office of ambassador 
of Jesus Christ, as the Apostle affirms of all priests : Ha* 
hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation, . . . He hatJi 
placed in zis the word of reconciliation. . . . For Christ 
therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by 
us? The preacher then occupies in the pulpit the place 
of Jesus Christ, and speaks on the part of Jesus Christ 
to sinners who hear him, in order that they may return 
into favor with God. Now if a king, as Father John 
d Avila observes in one of his letters, commissioned one 
of his subjects to negotiate a marriage with a lady on 
his behalf, and the ambassador concluded it for himself, 
would not such a man be a traitor? And such exactly, 
said Father d Avila, is the preacher who, commissioned 
by God to effect the conversion of sinners, studies to 
procure glory for himself, and thus renders the divine 
word useless, by adulterating it so that it produces no 
fruit. And thus does St. John Chrysostom also denom- 

1 " Dedit nobis ministerium reconciliationis. . . . et posuit in nobis 
verbum reconciliationis . . . Pro Christo legatione fungimur, tan- 
quam Deo exhortante per nos." 2 Cor. v. 18. 


the Manner of Preaching. 43 

inate every preacher who preaches from vanity "A 
miserable and unhappy traitor." 1 

The embellishment of a sermon with lofty sentiments 
and elaborate expression, to gain a character for one s 
self, is precisely that adulteration of the word of God 
which the Apostle avoided; as he writes to the Corin 
thians : For we are not as many, adulterating the word of 
God, but with sincerity, but as from God, before God, in 
Christ we speak? On which words St. Gregory observes, 
that adulterers are not desirous to have children: on the 
contrary, they abhor them; they propose to themselves 
nothing else but the gratification of their unlawful pas 
sions: such are those who do not preach to gain souls, 
but to acquire a name and reputation. 3 

But let preachers tremble lest God should cut them 
off, as he threatens by the prophet Jeremias: Therefore, 
behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, who steal my 
words every one from his neighbor? Who are they who 
unjustly employ the divine word? They are precisely 
those who make use of it only to acquire the name of 
great orators, robbing God of his glory to transfer it to 
themselves. St. Francis de Sales said that the preacher 
whose discourses abound in foliage, that is, curious 
thoughts and elegant expressions, is in danger of being 
cut down and consigned to the fire, like to the unfruitful 
tree in the Gospel; whilst our Lord said to his disciples, 
and through them to all priests, that he had chosen them 
to bring forth fruit lasting fruit. Hence Cornelius a 
Lapide, speaking of such orators/hesitates not to assert 
1 " Miser et infelix Proditor." 

"Non enim sumus, sicut plurimi, adulterantes verbum Dei; st-d ex 
sinceritate, sed sicut ex Deo, coram Deo, in Christo loquimur." 2 Cor. 
ii. 17. 

" Adulterari verbum Dei est ex eo, non spiritales fructus, sed adul 
terines foetus quaerere laudis humanse. " Mor. 1. 22, c. 17. 

" Propterea ecce ego ad prophetas, ait Dominus, qui furantur verba 
mea: Projiciam quippe vos."Jer. xxiii. 30, 33. 

44 Letter to a Religious 

that they sin mortally, both because they pervert the 
office of preaching to their own exaltation, and also be 
cause by preaching in a lofty and elegant style they op 
pose an obstacle to the salvation of so many souls that 
would be converted if they preached in an apostolic 
manner. 1 The same was said by Father John d Avila, 
as we have remarked above: "If the preacher do not 
faithfully fulfil his office," etc. 

Nor does it avail such a person to say: What I princi 
pally propose is the glory of God. He who makes use 
of lofty and uncommon language, so as not to be under 
stood by all, opposes an obstacle to the glory of God, by 
preventing the conversion of many who hear him, since, 
as Muratori well remarks, whoever preaches is bound to 
procure the salvation of each individual, be he learned 
or ignorant, as if there were no other who heard him. 
And if any one of them be not converted, because he 
could not comprehend what was said, the preacher will 
have to render an account, as God himself declared by 
the mouth of Ezechiel (this all preachers are sufficiently 
aware of, but in practice they attend but little to it; 
hence I repeat it here): If when I say to the wicked: Thou 
shalt surely die ; thou declare it not to him, . . . the same 
wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his 
blood at thy hand? And undoubtedly it is the same not 
to preach the word of God, as to adulterate it by a 
florid style, so that it does not produce the fruit that it 
certainly would if it were expounded in a clear and 
simple manner. St. Bernard says that on the day of 
judgment those poor ignorant persons will appear to 

1 Pnedicator qui plausum quaerit, non conversionem populi, hie 
damnabitur quia prsedicationis officio, ad laudem non Dei sed suam 
abusus est, turn quia salutem tot animarum sibi creditam impedivit et 
avertit." In Luc. vi. 26. 

2 " Si dicente me ad impium: Morte morieris; non annuntiaveris ei, 
. . . ipse impius in iniquitate sua morietur, sanguinem autem ejs de 
manu tua requiram." Ezech. iii. 18. 

on the Manner of Preaching. 45 

arraign those preachers who have lived on their bounty, 
but have neglected to heal, as they ought, the diseases 
of their souls. 1 

We should be persuaded that when the word of God 
is adulterated by studied elegance of expression it be 
comes feeble and enervated, so as not to be of any ser 
vice either to the learned or unlearned. I do not assert 
this of myself: it is stated by St. Prosper, or, if you will, 
another ancient author who goes under his name. 2 And 
this sentiment he borrowed from St. Paul, who writes 
as follows: Christ sent me . . . to preach the Gospel, not in 
wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void? 
On which text St. John Chrysostom observes: "Some 
devote themselves to external wisdom : the Apostle 
shows that this wisdom does not only aid the cross, 
but it even annihilates it." 1 Lofty conceptions, then, 
and elaborate expression in sermons hinder and, as it 
were, annihilate the spiritual profit of souls, which is 
the fruit of the redemption of Jesus Christ. Hence St. 
Augustine said: "I should not presume to employ wis 
dom of speech, lest the cross of Christ become ener 
vated; satisfied with the authority of the divine word, I 
would rather serve the simplicity of the Gospel than 
vanity." 6 

St. Thomas of Villanova inveighs against those hearers 

" Venient, venient ante tribunal Christi; ubi erit pauperum accu- 
satio, quorum vixere stipendiis, nee diluere peccata." De Vita et Mor. 
Cler. c. 7. 

2 " Sententiarum vivacitatem sermo cultus ex industria enervat." 
De Vita conic inpl. 1. 3, c. 34. 

" Misit me Christus . . . evangelizare, non in sapientia verbi, ut 
non evacuetur crux Christi." i Cor. i. 17. 

"Alii externae sapientise operam dabant, ostendit (Apostolus) earn 
non solum cruci non opem ferre, sed etiam earn exinanire." 

5 "Non praesumam unquam in sapientia verbi, ne evacuetur crux 
Christi ; sed Scripturarum auctoritate contentus, simplicitati obedire 
potius studeo, quam tumori." Contra Felician. c. 2. 

46 Letter to a Religious 

who, whilst their souls are lost in sin, go in quest of 
flowery discourses. "O fool," he says, " thy house is 
burning, and thou expectest artificial discourse !" But 
this reproof is better directed to those preachers who 
address a congregation of which probably there are 
many in a state of sin: these miserable souls require 
rather the thunder and lightning which would arouse 
them from their lethargy, and strike them with terror, 
and for this purpose are required words not borrowed 
from the academy, but springing from the heart and 
from a true zeal and desire to rescue them from the 
hands of the enemy, and yet we would amuse them 
with polished phrases and sounding periods. If a house 
were on fire, what folly would it be, says Father Mansi, 2 
to attempt to extinguish it with a little rose-water. 
Thus, when I hear any one praised who preaches with 
studied elegance, and hear it said that his sermons have 
produced great fruit, I smile, and say: It is impossible; 
and why? because I know that God does not lend his 
co-operation to such preaching. My preaching, says the 
Apostle, was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, 
but in shewing of the spirit and power? "To what pur 
pose," says Origen, commenting on the text cited above, 
"does all our eloquence serve if it be not animated by 
the spirit and virtue of divine grace?" 4 The Lord 
lends his aid to him who preaches his word in a plain 
and simple manner, without vanity, imparting a force 
and power to his language that moves the hearts of all 
who hear him. But this efficacy he does not communi- 

" O stulte, ardet domus tua; et tu expectas compositam orationem?" 

2 Biblioth. mor. tr. 83, d. 42. 

3 " Pnedicatio mea, non in persuasibilibus humanae sapientise verbis, 
sed in ostensione spiritus et virtutis." I Cor. ii. 4. 

4 " Haec verba Apostoli quid aliud sibi volunt, quam non satis esse 
quod dicimus, ut animas moveant hominum, nisi doctori divinitus adsit 
coelestis gratiae energia, juxta illud (Ps. Ixvii. 13): Dominus dabit 
verbum evangelizantibus virtute rnnlta?" 

on the Manner of Preaching. 47 

cate to studied and polished expression. The diction 
that is refined and adorned according to the dictates of 
human wisdom, says the Apostle, as we have before 
observed, enervates the divine word, and destroys the 
profit which might be expected from it. 

Oh, what a fearful account will those priests have 
to render to God who preach through vanity ! St. 
Bridget 1 saw the soul of a preacher, who was a relig 
ious, condemned to hell for having preached in this 
spirit; and the Lord said to the saint that he does not 
speak by vain preachers, but rather the devil. In dis 
coursing one day with that great missionary, Father 
Sparano, mentioned above, he related to me an awful 
occurrence. He told me that a certain priest who 
preached in a polished style, being at the point of 
death, and feeling a great aridity and indisposition to 
conceive a hearty sorrow for his sins, almost despaired 
of his salvation; and then the Lord spoke to him from a 
crucifix near him, in a voice which was also heard by all 
present: "I give you that compunction which you ex 
cited in the hearts of others when you preached." But 
more terrible is the circumstance related by Father 
Cajetan Mary de Bergamo, a Capuchin, in his book 
entitled The Apostolic Man in the Pulpit. This author 
relates that a preacher, then a Capuchin, related to him 
the following occurrence, which happened to himself a 
few years before. He being a young man and accom 
plished in polite literature, had already begun to preach 
in the cathedral at Brescia; but when preaching there a 
second time, after an interval of some years, he was ob 
served to preach quite in an apostolic manner. Being 
afterwards asked why he had thus changed his style of 
preaching, he replied: "I knew a celebrated preacher, a 
religious, a friend of mine, and who, like me, preached in 

1 Kev. 1. 6, c. 35. 

48 Letter to a Religious 

a spirit of vanity; when he was at the point of death it 
was found impossible to induce him to make his confes 
sion. I went to see him, and spoke to him strongly; but 
he looked at me steadfastly without making a reply. In 
the mean time the Superior conceived the idea of bring 
ing to him in his cell the Blessed Eucharist, in order to 
move him by this means to receive the sacraments. The 
most Holy Eucharist was brought, and those who were 
present said to him: Behold, Jesus Christ is come to 
grant you pardon. But the sick man began to exclaim 
in a voice of despair: This is the God whose holy word 
I have betrayed. We all then commenced to pray to 
the Lord that he would have compassion on him, or to 
exhort him to confide in the divine mercy; but he in a 
louder voice exclaimed: This is the God whose holy 
word I have betrayed; and then added: There is no 
more mercy for me. We continued to suggest to him 
sentiments of confidence, when a third time he cried 
out: This is the God whose holy word I have betrayed; 
and then he said, By the just judgment of God I am 
condemned, and suddenly expired. And this is the 
reason, observed this Father, why I have so much re 
formed my manner of preaching." 

Who knows but some one will smile at those facts, 
and the whole of my letter; but such a one I shall ex 
pect to meet before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Be 
sides, I do not intend that at all times and before all 
sorts of persons the same style of expression should be 
used. When the audience is composed entirely of priests 
or educated persons, the preacher should make use of 
more select language; but his discourse should be always 
simple and familiar, as if he were discoursing in familiar 
conversation with the learned, and not decorated with 
lofty ideas and elaborate expressions; otherwise, the more 
florid the discourse, the less will be the fruit derived from 

on t/ie Manner of Preaching. 49 

it," says St. Ambrose. 1 The pomp and luxury which ap 
pear in the flowers of eloquence make it useless for the 
production of fruit. St. Augustine said that the preacher 
who seeks to please his auditors by an ornamental style is 
not an apostle that converts, but an orator that deludes; 
whence it may be said of his hearers what is said of the 
Jews, who, hearing Jesus Christ, admired his doctrine, 
but were not converted. 2 They will exclaim, " He 
spoke extremely well;" but they will have derived no 
profit whatever from the discourse. St. Jerome wrote 
to his friend Nepotianus that in preaching he should 
endeavor to elicit tears rather than applause from his 
auditory. 3 St. Francis de Sales expresses the same idea 
in a more emphatic manner in a letter to an ecclesiastic: 
"In leaving the church I would not wish it should be 
said, O how great an orator ! he has a prodigious mem 
ory; he is very learned; he spoke admirably: but I 
would wish to hear the hearers say, How beautiful, how 
necessary is penance! My God, how good, how just 
Thou art ! and the like: or that the words of the preacher 
having made a breach in the hearts of the hearers, they 
were unable to render any testimony in favor of their 
merit but the amendment of their lives." 4 

Perhaps the preacher who studies to speak elegantly 
may entertain a hope that he will obtain universal 
applause: let him divest himself of this persuasion. 
Many will praise, many will criticise him; some will 
offer one opinion, some another. And such is the folly 
of those orators who preach themselves and not Jesus 
Christ that, with all their efforts to obtain a vain ap- 

" Quod luxuriat, in flore sermonis hebetatur in fructu." In Ps. 
118, s. 12. 

2 " Mirabantur sed non convertebantur," In Jo. tr. 29, n. 2. 

3 " Docente te in ecclesia, non clamor populi, sed gemitus susci- 
tetur. Auditorum lacrymae laudes tuae sint." Ep. ad Nepotian. 

4 Lett re 218, man. de precher , ch. 2, a. 3. 

50 Letter to a Religious 

plause, they do not, notwithstanding, obtain it from all; 
whilst, on the other hand, he who preaches Christ cru 
cified always secures the fruit of his discourse, as by it 
he pleases God, which should be the only end of all our 
actions. Hence generally a simple and familiar style 
of preaching, as Muratori remarks, " will please and 
delight even persons of cultivated understandings; for, 
when the preacher speaks in a lofty and florid style, the 
hearer then is satisfied with relishing and admiring his 
genius, and pays little or no attention to his own spiri 
tual profit; on the other hand, even the learned com 
mend a preacher who, with a view to benefit all, breaks 
for them that spiritual bread the word of God. They 
will not praise his genius, but his fervor; by which, 
without making a display of talent, he proposes solely 
to serve the souls of his hearers this is the true glory 
to which the sacred orator ought to aspire. Moreover, 
the learned who desire to derive fruit from the sermon 
seek not him who enlightens their minds, but him who 
heals their souls; and on this account both learned and 
unlearned crowd to hear him who preaches in a popular 
manner, because every one finds there the spiritual 
nourishment that is necessary for him." 

Seneca says that the sick man does not seek for the 
physician who speaks well, but who will cure him. To 
what purpose does it serve, he says, for you to entertain 
me with fine words when I stand in need of the cautery 
and the knife to cure me. 1 Wherefore St. Bernard says: 
" I like to hear the voice of that teacher who seeks to 
gain of me, not applause, but tears." a I recollect that the 
renowned D. Nicholas Capasso, a man so distinguished 
for learning, went every day to hear the Canon Gizzio 

1 " Non quserit aeger medicum eloquentem sed sanantem. Quid 
oblectas? aliud agitur; urendus, secandus sum. ad haec adhibitus es." 

2 " Illius doctoris libenter vocem audio, qui non sibi plausum, sed 
mihi planctum moveat." In Cant. s. 59, n. 3. 

on the Manner of Preaching. 5 1 

whilst he was giving the spiritual exercises to the members 
of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost; he said that he 
went to hear that servant of God because he preached 
the word of God in an apostolic manner, and without 
studied elegance. Oh how does the pure and simple 
word of God please even the learned ! Muratori relates 
in the life of Paul Segneri the younger, which he wrote, 
that, although he preached in a familiar and popular 
style, he delighted all so much that he touched the 
hearts even of the most enlightened among his audience. 
In like manner, in the life of St. John Francis Regis 
I find the following passage: "His discourses were 
simple: he preached only to instruct the people; and, 
notwithstanding, the gentry as well as seculars and 
clergy of the town of Puy crowded to his catechetical 
discourses so eagerly that for two or three hours before 
lie began every place was occupied; and it was the 
common saying of the inhabitants of Puy that they 
admired more his holy simplicity than the studied ele 
gance of the most distinguished preachers. He, they 
observed, preaches Jesus Christ and the divine word as 
it really is; while the others come here to preach them 
selves, and, instead of the divine word, display their 
own eloquence, which is altogether human." And the 
following fact, which is afterwards mentioned, is re 
markable: There was a certain preacher who gave a 
series of instructions in the cathedral during the same 
Lent in which the saint was giving a mission. Being as 
tonished how it was that the people left him to go hear 
an ignorant priest, as he considered St. Francis com 
pared with himself, he went to find the Provincial, who 
at that time was making his visitation, and said to him 
that Father Regis was indeed a saint, but that his man 
ner of preaching was not suitable to the dignity of the 

1 By Father Daubenton, 1. 3. 

52 Letter to a Religious 

pulpit, and that the meanness of his style and the trivial 
things he said dishonored his ministry. The Provincial 
replied: "Let us both, before we condemn him, go and 
hear him." The Provincial was so much affected with 
the force and unction with which he explained the evan 
gelical truths, that during the entire discourse he was 
shedding copious tears; then, on leaving the church, turn 
ing to his companion, he said, " Ah, my Father, would to 
God that all sacred orators preached in that manner ! 
Let us allow him to preach with his own apostolic sim 
plicity the finger of God is there." The same preacher, 
says the writer of his life, was touched with such com 
punction in hearing the discourse, that instead of cen 
suring him, as he had proposed, he even praised him as 
he deserved. 

Let us now say something of panegyrics, as we prom 
ised. Why, I ask, do panegyrics, as they are composed 
nowadays, produce no fruit ? How fruitful would they 
be were they delivered with simplicity, detailing with 
devout reflections the virtues of the saints; thus would 
the people be moved to imitate their example. This 
undoubtedly is the object of panegyrics, and hence the 
masters of the spiritual life recommend strongly the read 
ing of the lives of the saints. Therefore St. Philip Neri, 
as the writer of his life relates, recommended the members 
of his Congregation to adduce, in preaching, some ex 
ample from the life of a saint, in order that the doctrine 
might be more firmly impressed on the minds of the 
hearers; but he wished that such facts should be men 
tioned as would move the auditors to compunction 
rather than excite their wonder. Father John Dielegis, 
who wrote on the manner of composing panegyrics, says 
that panegyrics do not produce fruit through the fault 
of the auditors who come to hear the discourse, not to 
derive any benefit from it, but to listen to exquisite 
thoughts and an elegant discourse; but he would have 

ou the Manner of Preaching, 53 

said with more truth, that the fault is generally imputa- 
ble to orators who fill their discourses with conceits and 
affected language, for the purpose of obtaining empty 
praise, when their only object should be, as the same 
author observes, to move their hearers to the imitation 
of the virtues of the saints of whom they speak. But 
let us hear what Muratori says on modern panegyrics. 
In his work already cited, On Modern Eloquence, in the i3th 
chapter, he writes thus: " Why do sacred orators for the 
most part heap together gems and flowers, and make a 
parade of their eloquence ? The end of panegyrics is to 
lead the auditory, by such examples, to the practice of 
virtue; but few indeed think of this. Good God ! how 
many extravagant hyperboles ! how many fantastic 
ideas ! in a word, how many silly conceits !" 

And in truth, what fruit can be derived from the 
panegyrics of certain learned preachers, who fill them 
with flowers, subtleties, ingenious thoughts, curious 
descriptions, high-sounding words, unintelligible to per 
sons of ordinary capacity, rounded periods, so long that, 
to comprehend their meaning, even the learned require 
to exert all the powers of their minds, so that they 
nearly resemble academical discourses, in which his 
own glory is the only object of the speaker. O God ! 
what a disorder to see a minister of Jesus Christ expend 
uselessly many months and much labor (one of this 
class of preachers, who is now in eternity, said, that to 
compose a panegyric he required at least six months), 
and for what purpose? to round periods, and heap 
together figures and flowers. And what profit does the 
orator derive from this either for himself or for others ? 
For himself, nothing but a little smoke; and as for the 
hearers, they derive from it nothing, or almost nothing, 
because either they do not understand it, or, if they do, 
their attention is distracted by those sounding words 
and ingenious thoughts; and thus they lose their time, 

54 Letter to a Religious 

It has been related to me by several persons deserving 
of credit, that the preacher mentioned above, who said 
that to compose one panegyric he required six months, 
being at the point of death, gave directions that all his 
manuscripts should be burned. I was moreover assured 
that this same person, being once complimented by 
others for his panegyrics, was much troubled, and replied: 
" Alas! these discourses will be one day my condemna 

Muratori, in a work entitled Christian Charity, writes 
as follows: " Oh, why have we so many panegyrics, which 
invariably terminate in a vain display of talent and in 
genious subtleties, devised by volatile imaginations, 
unintelligible to the people?" And then he adds: " Let 
a panegyric, if intended to be useful, be composed in 
that popular and intelligible style of eloquence which 
instructs and moves the ignorant no less than the 
learned; but this is oftentimes not understood by him 
who fancies himself more learn-ed than others." Oh! 
that these frothy panegyrics were abolished in the 
Church, and that these discourses were composed in a 
simple and familiar manner, as this writer says, who 
was eminent at once for piety and learning. 

But, before I conclude, it is necessary that I should 
reply to the observation which your letter contains 
that to entertain is one of the principal objects of the 
orator, and therefore, when persons of education assist 
at a sermon, the preacher should speak in a polished 
and ornamental style in order to please them. 

Reverend Father, I will not reply to you: St. Francis 
de Sales answers for me, who, in the letter already 
cited, which he addresses to an ecclesiastic on the man 
ner of preaching, in confirmation of all we have ad 
vanced above in the fifth chapter, writes as follows: 
" Lengthened periods, polished language, studied ges 
ture, and the like, are the bane of preaching. The most 

on the Manner of Preaching. 55 

useful and elegant artifice is, to employ none. Our 
words should be inflamed by an interior charity, and 
should come from the heart rather than the mouth: 
the heart speaks to the heart; the tongue speaks but to 
the ear. The texture of the discourse should be nat 
ural, without vain ornament, without affected ex 
pression. Our forefathers, and all those whose preach 
ing has brought forth fruit, have abstained from speak 
ing with too much elegance, and from using the 
ornaments of worldly eloquence, because they spoke 
from the heart, as good parents do to their children. 
The object of the preacher is to convert sinners and to 
make the just perfect; whence, ascending the pulpit, 
he should say in his heart: Ego vent ut isti vitam hade- 
ant et abundantius habcant" Then the saint, speaking of 
the pleasure the preacher should afford, uses the fol 
lowing words: "I know that many say the preacher 
should delight; but as for me, I distinguish, and say, 
that there is a pleasure consequent on the doctrine 
which is preached and the impression made upon the 
hearers; for what soul is so insensible as not to feel ex 
treme pleasure in learning the way to heaven; how to 
gain Paradise; in comprehending the love which God 
bears us ? And, in order to impart this pleasure, all 
diligence should be used to instruct and to move. But 
there is another sort of pleasure which oftentimes is an 
obstacle to instruction and to persuasion a tickling of 
the ear by a profane elegance of language, and a certain 
balancing of words, which is altogether artificial. And 
as to this, I say without hesitation, that a preacher 
should not make use of it, because it belongs to pro 
fane orators; and whosoever preaches in this manner 
preaches not Christ crucified, but himself. St. Paul 
detests preachers who are prurientes auribus, and conse 
quently such as are solicitous to please their hearers." 2 

1 Lettre 218, man. de frecher^ ch. 5, a. I, 3, 4; ch. 2, a. 2. 

2 lb, ch. 2, a. 3. 

56 Letter to a Religious 

So far the saint: and let it be observed, that the writ 
ings of this saint are, in a special manner, approved and 
adopted by the Church, which prays that by their 
guidance we may arrive at eternal happiness. 1 Such is 
the prayer we recite in the Office of the saint. 

In conformity with this, the learned theologian Ha- 
bert, speaking of the style which the ministers of the 
Gospel should adopt in preaching, says that the preacher 
then should endeavor to please, by a style clear, easy, 
and accommodated to the capacity of each of his audi 
tors. 2 Then the audience will be gratified, as St. Francis 
de Sales observes, by understanding the eternal truths, 
the maxims of the Gospel, and by knowing what they 
have to do, or to avoid, in order to be saved; they will 
be pleased whilst they feel themselves touched with 
compunction, animated with confidence, and inflamed 
with the love of God. 

St. Augustine says that if the pleasures of sense de 
light, much more delightful is the knowledge of the 
truth; and hence, he adds, there is nothing which the 
soul so ardently desires as to know the truth. 3 Agreeably 
to this, St. Francis observes, in his treatise on the love 
of God: "Truth is the object of the understanding, and 
hence it finds all its pleasure in knowing the truth; and 
the more sublime it is, the greater its gratification: 
whence the ancient philosophers abandoned riches, 
honors, and pleasures, that they might understand the 
truths of nature. And Aristotle said that human feli- 

" Concede propitius ut ejus dirigentibus monitis, seterna gaudia 
consequamur. " We may also apply this remark to the teachings of 
our saint; for we also read in the prayer of his Office : Ut ejus salutari- 
bns monitis edocti . . . ad te pcrvenire fcliciter valeamus. He was, 
moreover, -raised to the dignity of Doctor of the Church. ED. 

2 " Evangelii minister delectabit, si sit sermonis apti, facilis, ac per- 

" Quid enim fortius desiderat anima quam veritatem ?" In Jo, tr. 
26, n. 5. 

on the Manner of Preaching. 5 7 

city consists in wisdom; that is, in knowing the truth 
of the most excellent things." 1 Hence the saint con 
cludes, that a soul cannot enjoy greater delight than in 
acquiring a knowledge of the truths of faith; the more 
as the knowledge of them is not only a source of pleas 
ure to us, but also eminently useful, as upon them de 
pends all our happiness for time and eternity. 

Wherefore St. Antoninus says that the preacher 
ought indeed to delight his audience; but for what end ? 
In order that, being moved by the discourse they may 
be induced to practise what they have learned. On the 
other hand, St. John Chrysostom affirms that the ruin 
of the Church is the great eagerness of sacred orators, 
not to move their hearers to compunction, but to please 
them with fine words; as if they came to hear a singer 
chant a piece of sacred music in the pulpit. " Such 
preachers," continues the saint, " act like a father who 
gives to his sick child what it wants. Such a one, how 
ever, does not deserve the name of father. This hap 
pens every time that one seeks flowery language, not to 
inspire compunction, but to win vain praise." 1 Yes, 
reverend Sir, there are many sacred orators who delight 
their auditory by their elegant and pompous diction, 
and attract crowds to their sermons. But I would wish 
to know how many of those who are so highly pleased 
with their discourses, full of elegance and ornament, 
leave the church with a contrite heart, and afterwards 
amend their lives. Such precisely was the language of 

1 Love of God, B. 3, ch. 9. 

2 " Ut sic moveat affectum ut flectat scilicet curando, ut quae dicta 
sunt, velit implere." P. 3, tit. 18, ch. 3, 4. 

3 " Subvertit ecclesiam, quod et vos non quseritis sermonem qui 
pungere possit, sed qui oblectet, quasi cantores audientes. Et idem sit 
ac si Pater videns puerum aegrotum illi, quaecumque oblectent, porri- 
gat, talem non dixerim Patrem. Hoc etiam nobis accidit, flosculos 
verborum sectamur, ut oblcctemtis, non ut compungamus, et laudibus 
obtentis, abeamus." In Act. horn. 30 

58 Letter to a Religious 

St. Francis when mention was made before him of 
preachers who had obtained great applause. " Be so 
good as to tell me," he would say, " how many were 
converted by their preaching." The accursed passion 
for display spoils the sermons of many preachers, and 
destroys the fruit of them for those who hear him. 
This made St. Vincent de Paul exclaim, as we read in 
his life: "O cursed ambition of display! how many 
virtues do you infect! of how many evils are you the 
cause! You make him who should preach Jesus Christ, 
preach himself, and destroy when he should save." J 

Some, in order to entertain the audience, ornament, 
or rather disfigure, their sermons with witticisms and 
ridiculous anecdotes, and even go so far as to say that 
this is necessary in instructions or catechetical dis 
courses addressed to the people, in order to excite and 
keep alive their attention and interest. But I know that 
the saints in their sermons did not make the people 
laugh, but weep. When St. John Francis Regis preached 
(and his sermons were always familiar) the audience 
wept from the beginning to the end of the discourse. A 
facetious remark, naturally suggested by the occasion, 
may perhaps be allowed; but to reduce the exhorta 
tion to a comic scene, as some do, by introducing ridicu 
lous trifles or curious stories, with attitudes and gestures 
designed to make the audience laugh I do not know 
how they can reconcile such an exhibition with the re 
spect due to the temple of God, and to the pulpit from 
which is announced the word of God, and in which the 
preacher fulfils the office of ambassador of Jesus Christ. 
The auditors indeed will laugh and be merry, but after 
wards they will be distracted and indevout, and instead 
of attending to the moral instruction, will continue to 
reflect upon the witticism or ridiculous story which they 
have heard. 

1 Abt-lly, 1. 3. ch. 34. 

on the Manner of Preaching. 59 

From all I have written, your Reverence will be able 
to infer what surprise the assertion contained in your 
letter caused me, that the preacher should delight his 
auditory by a polished and ornamented style. I hope 
in the Lord that you will remove from your mind this 
prejudice, this grievous error, hurtful to your own soul, 
and to all those that will assist at your instructions. 

And as your Reverence is so very humble as to con 
descend, towards the close of your letter, to ask of an 
unworthy sinner some instructions for preaching with 
advantage to the people, I recommend you for the most 
part, in your sermons to speak of the last things death, 
judgment, hell, eternity, and the like; because the eter 
nal truths make the deepest impression, and incline the 
heart to the love of virtue. I beg of you, repeatedly in 
your discourses to explain to the people the peace en 
joyed by the soul that is in favor with God. St. Francis 
de Sales by this means drew away many souls from a 
vicious life, and on that account Henry IV., King of 
France, commended him much, blaming other preachers 
who make the way of virtue appear so difficult that they 
deter souls from entering upon it. I entreat you also to 
speak often of the love that Jesus Christ has shown us 
in his Passion, in the institution of the most Holy Sacra 
ment, and of the love we should bear in turn towards 
our most blessed Redeemer, by often calling to mind 
those two great mysteries of love. I say this because 
few preachers, or at least too few, speak of the love of 
Jesus Christ; and it is certain that what is done solely 
through fear of punishment and not through love will 
be of short duration. A great servant of God, and a 
great laborer in the vineyard of the Lord, Father Gen- 
naro Sarnelli,"used to say: " I would wish to do nothing 
else but proclaim without ceasing: love Jesus Christ, 
love Jesus Christ, because he is deserving of your love." 
In like manner often recommend, in preaching, devotion 

60 Letter to a Religious 

to the most Holy Virgin, through whose intercession 
all graces come to us, by making the people have re 
course to her at the end of the discourse to obtain some 
special grace, as the forgiveness of their sins, holy per 
severance, and the love of Jesus Christ. Above all, I 
beg of you to give practical advice to your audience, by 
suggesting the means of persevering in the grace of God, 
such as to guard the eyes from looking at dangerous ob 
jects, to fly evil occasion from conversing with persons 
of a different sex or vicious companions; to frequent 
the sacraments; to hear Mass every day; to enter into 
some pious sodality, to practise mental prayer, instruct 
ing them at the same time practically in the manner of 
making it; to read spiritual books; to visit the most 
Holy Sacrament; to make the examination of con 
science; to recite the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary. You should often inculcate conformity to the 
divine will amidst contradictions, as upon this con 
formity our perfection and salvation depend. Exhort 
them particularly to have recourse each day to Jesus and 
Mary, to obtain holy perseverance, and in particular, in 
the time of temptation; and I strenuously recommend 
you constantly to suggest to the people that great 
means of salvation, prayer a subject which I remark 
preachers treat very seldom, and very slightly, although 
upon prayer depend our eternal salvation and all our 

I am aware that speaking upon such practical subjects 
has little attraction for those preachers who aim at lofti 
ness of speech, because they appear to them to be trivial 
matters, and they do not admit of ingenious thoughts 
and sounding periods. But it was thus St. Francis de 
Sales preached, who converted by his sermons innum 
erable souls: he always enforced the practices of a 
Christian life, so that in one country district the people 
desired to have in writing the practical rules which he 

on the Manner of Preaching. 61 

recommended from the pulpit, that they might be the 
better able to put them in practice. 

Oh, if all sacred orators preached solely with the view 
of pleasing God, in an easy and popular style, and dis 
coursed on the truths and the maxims of the Gospel, in a 
manner plain, simple, and unadorned, and enforced prac 
tically the remedies against sins, and the means of perse 
vering and of advancing in the divine love, the world 
would change its face, and God would not be offended as 
we now see him. We may remark, that the country parish 
in which there is a fervent priest, who truly preaches 
Christ crucified, is soon reclaimed and sanctified. I say, 
moreover, if a pious and simple discourse is delivered in 
a church the whole auditory is touched with compunc 
tion, and if they are not all converted, they are at least 
moved and affected; if such a style of preaching, then, 
were universal, what advantage would we see universally 
accrue to souls ! 

I will trespass on you no longer; but as you had the 
patience to read this long letter, I beg of you to join me 
in the following prayer to Jesus Christ: 

O Saviour of the world, who art little known and 
loved less by the world, especially through the "fault of 
Thy ministers; Thou who didst give up Thy life for the 
salvation of souls, I beseech Thee through the merits of 
Thy Passion to enlighten and inflame so many priests 
who might convert sinners, and sanctify the entire earth 
if they preached Thy word with humility and simplicity, 
as Thou and Thy disciples preached it. But, alas ! they 
do not do so; they preach themselves, and not Thee: and 
thus the world is full of preachers, and in the mean 
time hell is constantly crowded with souls. O Lord, re 
pair this mighty ruin which preachers cause in Thy 
Church; and if it be necessary, humble, I pray Thee, as 
an example to others, by some visible sign, those priests 
who for their own glory adulterate Thy holy word, that 

62 Letter to a Religious. 

they may amend, and that they may not thus obstruct 
the spiritual profit of the people. Thus I hope, thus I 

I recommend myself to your prayers, and remain your 
Reverence s most devoted and obliged servant, 


Bishop of S. Agatha, etc. 

of a funtty !3oak 



By the Author of the Philosophical Dictionary." J 
i. Exposition of the Author s Ideas. 

WHILE the last pages of the present work (The Truth 
of Faith} were being printed, this book fell into my 
hands. By appearing as a new production by the 
author, who wrote the Philosophical Dictionary, which 
has already been condemned everywhere, it announces 
for this very reason a suspicious doctrine. In fact, I 
have found therein several unsound propositions, and 
even an impious proposition, which is clearly opposed 
to holy Scripture. 

Moreover, on seeing the title of the work, On Preach 
ing, one would have thought that it treated of the utility 
and even of the necessity there is in this world of 
preaching to the people in order to enlighten them, be 
cause in consequence of sin and the corruption of their 
nature they are enveloped in darkness, and naturally 
inclined, not to what is good and virtuous, as the 
author wishes, but to evil and to vices. Now this is not 
the case: the end of the work is to discredit preaching, 
by representing it as entirely useless for the reforma 
tion of morals. 

I do not wish to quote here all that the author says: 

1 Cardinal Villecourt (1. 3, ch. 38) informs us that this anonymous 
author was an abbe named Coyer, whose person and whose books have 
hardly been noticed in France. However this may be, his sacrilegious 
Utopia touched the zeal of the holy bishop, and has produced for us a 
few more good pages, which appeared in 1767 with The Truth of Faith. 

64 Refutation of a Book 

I shall give only a short sketch of it, to make the reader 
understand what the book contains. 

The author distinguishes the conversion of the mind 
from that of the heart, and says that preaching can 
bring about the conversion of the mind, but not that 
of the heart; that is, it may effect a change of religion, 
but not a change of morals. And here is the way in 
which he pretends to prove this: 

He says that preaching began when men united to 
live together in society. Cain, he says, having built the 
first city, which he called Henoch, and this city having 
become peopled with a race as wicked as himself, Enos 
preached against vice, but without success. Then came 
Henoch, who added threats, but his preaching was just 
as fruitless, or rather, it became injurious; for the faith 
ful, by mingling with the Gentiles to convert them to 
the w r orship of the true God, married their daughters, 
and thus the corruption extended throughout the world. 

He continues by saying that the Lord, seeing the 
whole world corrupted by sin, ordered Noe to inform 
men of the near approach of the deluge ; and Noe in the 
presence of the Ark, which he had begun to build, 
preached against vice; but all this was useless, so that 
God was obliged to submerge the world; and so it hap 

After the deluge generations multiplied again, and 
there were two empires that of Babylon and that of 
Ninive. Noe continued to preach, and did so with more 
force, recalling to people s minds the chastisement 
that had been administered. The prophets afterwards 
preached; but the people, instead of amending, added 
new crimes to their old ones, in such a manner that the 
Lord sent fire from heaven, which consumed five cities. 

After the coming of the Messias St. John the Baptist 
preached penance; but how many persons practised it? 
Jesus Christ himself preached, and gathered together 

entitled: " On Preaching: 65 

only a small number of disciples, who after his death 
were dispersed and began to preach throughout the 
world; but they ended by being put to death in differ 
ent countries by those very men to whom they had 

Thus speaks the author, and then adds: 

Under the reign of Constantine the Gospel began to 
be preached everywhere; many people embraced the 
faith, but did not renounce vice: they thus changed 
their religion without changing their manners. Preach 
ing was much more multiplied in the i2th century, thanks 
to the zeal of the children of St. Francis and of St. 
Dominic. Then came the children of St. Ignatius, and 
many other new religious, who filled the Church with 
preachers; and notwithstanding all this, the world 
found itself more than before filled with vice and wicked 
ness. What means can We therefore employ in order to 
effect a reform of morals, since so far preaching has 
always been ineffectual ? 

The author, arriving at his conclusion, says that the 
preacher who is really capable of reforming the world 
is a good government, which rewards the virtuous and 
punishes the wicked. Preachers, he says, preach about 
eternal goods and eternal evils, as faith teaches them; 
but these future goods and evils are far off, and make 
little or no impression, because men are more touched 
by what they see than by what they hear. The author 
then suggests different ways of extirpating vices. 

This is what he first proposes: i. To the fathers of 
families should be left, as was given by Romulus and 
Remus, the absolute power of chastising at their will 
their own children, except that they should not be 
allowed to sell or kill them, as was allowed to the Ro 
mans; 2. The husbands should be the judges of their 
wives; 3. The masters should have over their servants 
the authority that generals have over their soldiers. 

66 Refutation of a Book 

But his principal project is to establish in every 
city or village a censor, who should be charged with 
presiding over the families; then to establish a college 
of twelve censors from the nearest places, forming a 
distinct tribunal of the tribunals of justice. This tri 
bunal would have to chastise the vices that magistrates 
are not charged with punishing, and to reward the 
virtues that have not received the reward that they de 
serve. After this he makes an attack upon the author 
of the Spirit of the Laws, who had said that a monarchi 
cal government remedies all things, and replies to him 
that the universe is an altogether too convenient a 
censor, since it leaves vices without punishment and 
virtues without reward. 

2. Refutation. 

What displeases me above all in these projects is, that 
the author, in order to induce people to live well, 
speaks only of human means, and does not even mention 
the necessity of divine grace, without which all human 
forces can certainly do nothing for the conversion of 
hearts. Human governments in punishing bad subjects 
and in rewarding the good only serve, without divine 
grace, to make Pharisees, who outwardly appear to be 
saints, but inwardly are filled with vice. It is grace only 
that is successful in reforming hearts; hence the Church 
teaches us to pray thus: Tua nos quasumus, JDomine, 
gratia semper et prizveniat et sequatur, ac bonis operibus 
jugiter prcestet esse intentos (Let Thy grace, we beseech 
Thee, O Lord, ever precede and follow us, and make us 
continually intent upon good works). Now holy preach 
ing, of which I will afterward speak, serves to make us 
know the necessity of grace, and at the same time the 
necessity of prayer in order to obtain grace. 

As regards the second part of this book, which refers 
to civil government, it is not my business to discuss it; for 

entitled: " On Preaching" 67 

it is not a subject about which I am concerned. I only 
say that if this college of censors, which the author pro 
poses should depend on a higher authority, I would 
leave it to this latter authority, as belonging to it, the 
right of determining whether or not it is expedient to 
establish a tribunal of this kind; for, on the one hand, 
it seems that it can be made useful, but on the other 
hand the greatest inconveniences would result there 
from. If, on the contrary, one should wish to make it 
independent by establishing a democratic regime in 
stead of a monarchical government, it would be in op 
position to the common opinion of wise men, all of 
whom hold that the monarchical government is better 
and more suited to preserve harmony in society. 

But let us return to the first part concerning preach 
ing, which is of particular interest to me: the author de 
clares it to be useless for the reformation of morals. 

If he wishes to speak of vain and ornate preaching, as 
he really speaks of it in some parts of his book, he is 
right, and I agree with him; for I myself have published 
a little work in which I have proved that preachers who in 
their discourses seek their own glory, and not the glory 
of God, are, as far as the public are concerned, not 
only useless, but are often even pernicious; since most of 
the hearers being illiterate people, these discourses, 
which they do not understand, only cause them tedious- 
ness, and they go with disgust to hear the word of God. 
For myself, I say that if the divine word were not 
altered, if it were preached in its purity and in a simple 
manner, every one would become a saint. Very severe 
will therefore be the account that will have to be ren 
dered to God by those priests who profane holy preach 
ing by a lofty and pompous style, beyond the capacity 
of the people, causing thereby the loss of so many souls. 
We should read what is said about this matter by Mu- 
ratori in his golden book entitled Popular Eloquence. 

68 Refittation of a Book 

In short, if the author means this kind of vain preach 
ing, he is right when he says that it cannot be con 
ducive to the amendment of bad morals; but if he 
speaks in general, as he really does, of holy preaching, 
I say that his thesis is not only most false, but it is. 
moreover, pernicious and impious, since it is contrary 
to holy Scripture. 

Holy Scripture teaches us that good morals, likefaith, 
are propagated and cultivated by preaching. Jesus 
Christ has declared that to save men his Passion alone 
was not sufficient, but that preaching was also neces 
sary in order that men might do penance for their sins 
and amend their lives: And thus it behored Christ to suffer, 
and to rise again from the dead on the third day : and that 
penance and remission of sins should be preached in His name 
unto all nations? For this reason, therefore, he com 
manded his disciples to go out into the whole world, to 
teach not only the mysteries that men should believe, 
but also the commandments that they should keep: Go 
ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every crea 
ture? Teaching them to observe all things ivhatsoever I have 
commanded you: In obedience to this command the 
apostles preached, and their preaching produced fruit 
in the entire world, as is testified by St. Paul: In the 
word of the truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you, as 
also it is in the whole world, and bringeth forth fruit and 
groweth, even as it doth in you, since the day you heard it? 

1 " Et sic oportebat Christum pati, et resurgere a mortuis tertia die, 
et praedicare in nomine ejus poenitentiam et remissionem peccatontm 
in omnes gentes." Luke, xxiv. 46. 

2 " Euntes in mundum universum, praedicate Evangelium omni crea- 
turse." Mark, xvi. 15. 

3 " Docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis." Matt. 
xxviii. 15. 

4 " In verbo veritatis Evangelii, quod pervenit ad vos, sicut in uni- 
verso mundo est, et fructificat, et crescit, sicut in vobis, ex eo die qua 
audistis." Col. i. 5. 

entitled : " On Preaching? 69 

And this came to pass because the Lord co-operated in 
making successful their zeal: And they going forth 
preached everywhere, the Lord working withal, and confirm 
ing the word with signs that followed. 1 

The author says that preaching is inefficacious for the 
reformation of morals. But God does not speak thus: 
the Lord declares that as the rain makes the earth fruit 
ful and makes it produce wheat, in the same way the 
word of God does not remain sterile; it produces in 
souls fruits of good works: And as the rain and the snow 
come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but 
soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give 
seed to the sower, and bread to the eater j so shall My word 
be, which shall go forth from My mouth : it shall not return 
to Me void ; but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall 
prosper in the things for which I sent it." 1 St. Paul adds 
that the word of God is so efficacious that it penetrates 
the hearts more than a two-edged sword: For the word 
of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any 
two-edged sword ; and reaching unto the division of the soul 
and the spirit? By the word animcc soul we under 
stand the inferior part of man, which is called animal ; 
and by the word spiritus spirit we understand the 
superior part, which is called spiritual. Hence the word 
of God prevents the superior part from uniting with the 
inferior part, as happens among the wicked in whom the 
inferior drags down the superior part; so that holy 

1 " Illi autem profecti prsedicaverunt ubique, Domino cooperante, et 
sermonem confirmante sequentibus signis." -Mark, xvi. 20. 

2 " Et quomodo descendit imber et nix de coelo, et illuc ultra non re- 
vertitur, sed inebriat terram, et infundit earn, et germinare earn facit, 
et dat semen serenti, et panem comedenti; sic erit verbum meum, quod 
egredietur de ore meo: non revertetur ad me vacuum, sed faciet quae- 
cumque volui, et prosperabitur in his ad qua misi illud." Is. Iv. 10. 

3 " Vivus est enim sermo Dei, et efficax, et penetrabilior omni gladio 
ancipiti, et pertingens usque ad divisionem anims et spiritus." Heb. 
iv. 12. 

70 Refutation of a Book 

preaching, or rather, the grace by means of preaching, 
separates the inferior part from the superior, and pre 
vents the superior part from being dragged down, and 
dominates over all the actions and all the desires of men. 

St Paul, moreover, writes: It pleased God by the foolish 
ness of our preaching to save them that believe. 1 He says, 
By the foolishness of preaching : this is because the mys 
tery of the Redemption, which the apostles preached, 
was regarded as foolishness by the Gentiles, just as we 
afterwards read in the same place: But we preach Christ 
crucified: unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto 
the Gentiles, foolishness? The Apostle then declares that 
it is by means of the preaching of such folly that the 
Lord has wished to save believers. Now in order to save 
men, they must be led not only to believe the truths of 
faith, but also to do what faith teaches; for faith alone 
without works cannot save any one. Hence the Apos 
tle assures us, in another text already cited, that the 
faith of Jesus Christ produced fruits of good works in 
the whole world: It is in the whole world, and bringeth forth 

Origen also attests 4 that in his time in all parts of the 
world those that had abandoned their divinities as well 
as the laws of their country, and consequently their 
wicked morals, in order to follow the law of Jesus 
Christ, were innumerable. Hence the apostles, as the 
fruit of their preaching ? had the consolation of seeing 
the Gentiles not only despise and trample under foot 

1 " Placuit Deo per stultitiam praedicationis salvos facere credentes." 
I Cor. i. 21. 

2 " Nos autem praedicamus Christum crucifixum, Judseis quidein 
scandalum, Gentibus autem stultitiam." Ib. i. 23. 

3 " In universe mundo est et fructificat." Col. i. 6. 

4 " In omni orbe terrarum, in omni Grsecia atque universis exteris 
nationibus, innumeri sunt et immensi, qui, relictis patriis legibus, et 
his quos putabant deos, se discipline Christi tradiderunt." Periarch. 
1. 4, n. i. 

entitled: " On Preaching" 71 

their gods, but also extirpate their vices, which were 
inveterate for so many centuries, abhor earthly pleas 
ures, renounce the riches and the honors of the world, 
in order to embrace sufferings, opprobrium, poverty, 
persecution, exile, tortures, and death. 

The author says that preaching has not served to ex 
tirpate vice. It is not denied that, notwithstanding all 
the preaching, there were, there are, and there will be 
obstinate people who, in order not to give up their vices, _ 
renounce God; but on the other hand, how many are 
there who, after having heard the divine word, have 
changed their lives and given themselves to God! And 
these conversions were not dramatic conversions, which 
were only apparent as would be those that were only 
accomplished because of temporal rewards and pun 
ishments, of which the author speaks: they were true 
conversions of the heart. This was especially shown 
by so many martyrs, who, in order to confess their faith 
according to the precept of the Gospel, sacrificed their 
lives amid torments, and had so great a desire to die, 
that Tiberian, governor of Palestine, was forced to write 
to the Emperor Trajan that it was impossible to put to 
death all the Christians, so great was the number of 
those that offered themselves to die for Jesus Christ. 
This subsequently induced Trajan to leave the Chris 
tians in peace. Those that were thus converted by holy 
preaching were not only the common, ignorant people; 
but there were among them nobles, learned men, de- 
curions, judges, senators, so that Tertullian in his Apol 
ogy could say to the Gentiles: "We are filling all your 
places, cities, islands, meetings, camps, decurions, the 
senate, the forum." 1 After the first three centuries, 
which were centuries of blood, the fourth and fifth were 
centuries of self-inflicted penances, and of renouncing; 

1 " Vestra omnia implevimus, urbes, insulas, conciliabula, castra, 
decurias, senatum, forum." Apologet, c. 37. 

72 Refutation of a Book: " On Preaching." 

of the world; for many men and women retired to the 
desert, leaving behind their country, their relatives, 
their property, and everything, in order to give them 
selves up entirely to God by the practice of the holy 
virtues. St. Jerome, when he was living in Palestine, 
wrote 1 that thither came every day from India, from 
Persia, from Ethiopia, companies of monks living in 
solitude, for the purpose of visiting the holy places 
of Jerusalem. And Rufinus 2 assures us, that particu 
larly in the territory of a single city of Egypt there 
lived at the beginning of the fourth century twenty 
thousand religious virgins who led a holy life. All this 
was the fruit of holy preaching. 

I do not wish to continue any longer, nor fatigue my 
readers, to prove the utility and the necessity of holy 
preaching; for this it suffices to recall to mind what the 
Apostle says: How then shall they call on him in whom 
they have not believed ? Or how shall they believe him of 
whom they have not heard 2 And how shall they hear with 
out a preacher ? 3 It seems to me, moreover, that the little 
that I have said above sufficiently proves how impious 
is the thesis of the book in question, in which the author 
pretends to prove that preaching has never been a use 
ful and proper means for the reformation of morals, 
when, on the contrary, without preaching we should be 
deprived of one of the principal means destined by God 
to bring about the true conversion of hearts. 

1 Ad Lcctam, de Instit. filice. 

2 Vit. Pair. 1. i, c. 5. 

3 " Quomodo ergo invocabunt, in quem non crediderunt ? Aut 
quomodo credent ei quem non audierunt? Quomodo autem audient 
sine prsedicante ?" Rom. x. 14. 

& fetter 


I HAVE received your lordship s most esteemed letter, 
in which I see your zeal for procuring missions for all 
the villages of your diocese, and in which your lordship 
states several objections which have been made against 
the advantages of the missions. In obedience to your 
lordship s commands I shall detail at full length my 
views on the matter, and shall answer all the groundless 
objections which have been put forward against the holy 

It is certain, my lord, that the conversion of sinners 
is the greatest benefit that God can bestow upon man. 
St. Thomas 1 says that the gift of grace by which God 
justifies the sinner is a greater favor than the beatitude 
of glory. But the conversion of sinners is precisely the 
end of the missions; for, by the instructions and ser 
mons of the missions, they are convinced of the malice 
of sin, of the importance of salvation, and of the good- 
ness of God, and thus their hearts are changed, the 
bonds of vicious habits are broken, and they begin to 
live like Christians. 

In the old as well as in the new law the Lord or 
dained that the world should be saved by means of the 
missions. The faith, according- to St. Paul, has been 

1 i. 2, q. 113, a. 9. 

* This letter was printed in connection with Sermons for Sundays, 
which appeared in 1771 {Villecourt, tome vi, pages 304 et 472). ED. 

74 Letter to a Bishop 

propagated by preaching; but preaching would have 
been ineffectual if God had not sent the preachers. 
How, says the Apostle, shall they believe him of whom they 
have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher ? 
and how shall they preach unless they be sent? Hence, ac 
cording to St. Gregory, the missions began at the com 
mencement of the world: for God has never at any 
time neglected to send workmen to cultivate his vine 
yard. 2 In the Old Testament he sent the prophets to 
preach the law, and in the New he has sent his own Son 
to teach us the new law of grace, which is the perfection 
and accomplishment of the old law. God who in times 
past spoke to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these 
days hath spoken to us by his Son? 

But because Jesus Christ was sent to preach only in 
Judea, he appointed the apostles that, after his death, 
they might preach the Gospel to all nations. 4 By the 
preaching of the apostles the Gospel began, as we 
learn from St. Paul, to fructify throughout the world. r> 
The apostles sent their disciples to propagate the faith 
in the other nations, which they themselves had not 
been able to reach. And in after years, as we know 
from ecclesiastical history, holy workmen were sent by 
the Sovereign Pontiff and by other bishops to preach 
the Gospel in other kingdoms. In the fourth century 
St. Ireneus was sent to France. In the fifth, St. Palla- 
dius was sent to Scotland, and St. Patrick to Ireland. 
In the sixth, St. Gregory sent St. Augustine to England. 

" Quomodo credent ei quern non audierunt ? Quomodo autem 
audient, sine praedicante ? Quomodo vero praedicabunt, nisi mittan- 
tur?" Rom. x. 14. 

2 " Ad erudiendam ergo dominus plebem.suam, quasi ad excolendam 
vineam, nullo tempore destitit operarios mittere." In Evang. hom. 19. 

3 " Novissime, diebus istis, locutus est nobis in Filio." Heb. i. 2.. 

" Euntes in mundum universum predicate evangelium omni crea- 
tune." Mark, xvi. 15. 

5 " In universe mundo est, et frurlifirat, et crescit." Col. i. 6. 

on the Utility of Missions. 7 5 

In the seventh, St. Eligius was sent to Flanders, St. 
Kilian to Franconia, Sts. Swidbert and Willibrord to Hol 
land. In the eighth century Gregory the Second sent 
St. Boniface to Germany, St. Wulfran to Friesland, 
and St. Hubert to Brabant. In the ninth, St. Ascanius 
was sent to Denmark and Sweden, and St. Methodius to 
Bohemia, Moravia, and Bulgaria. In the tenth, St. May- 
nard was sent to Livonia, and St. Ottone to Pomerania. 
In the thirteenth century the Pope sent Dominicans and 
Franciscans to Greece, Armenia, Ethiopia, Tartary, and 
Norway. These facts have been taken from a work 
entitled Historical Notices of the Church. 

Finally, we know that in later times immense num 
bers have been converted from paganism in the East 
Indies and Japan by St. Francis Xavier, and in the 
West Indies by St. Louis Bertrand. I abstain from 
mentioning the many provinces of infidels and heretics 
which were converted by missionaries. St. Francis de 
Sales was sent to the province of Chablais, and con 
verted seventy-two thousand heretics. We also know 
that St. Vincent de Paul instituted a Congregation of 
priests, which was approved by the Holy See. The 
priests of this Congregation are called " The Fathers of 
the Mission," because their lives are spent in giving 
missions in all places to which they are invited. 

In a word, wherever the faith has been planted or a 
reformation of morals introduced, all has been effected 
by means of the missions; and when the scourges of 
heaven earthquakes, wars, famine, and pestilence have 
failed to convert the people, when the civil laws with 
all their penalties have not succeeded in preventing 
murders, thefts, adulteries, and blasphemies, the mis 
sions have been found effectual; hence, the learned Con- 
tenson of the Order of St. Dominic says that by the 
missions alone souls obtain eternal life. 1 Hence, when 

" Per solas missiones impletur pnedestinatio, quae est transmissio 
creature rationalis in vitam aeternam." Thcol. 1. 3, d. 6, c. 2, sp. 2. 

76 Letter to a Bishop 

a mission is to be given in any place, we can clearly 
perceive the efforts of hell to prevent it. For there is 
always some dissolute person who does all in his power 
to prevent the mission, because he knows that it will be 
an effectual obstacle to the execution of his wicked de 
signs. But if in cities the missions are most useful, they 
are necessary in the villages and small towns as well for 
the instruction of the people as to give them an oppor 
tunity of making a good confession. First, in the small 
towns the missions are necessary for the instruction of 
the people. It is true, in all or in almost Catholic coun 
tries, sermons are preached to the people during the 
Lent. But the people derive far greater fruit from the 
sermons of the missionaries than from the Lenten dis 
courses. For the preachers for Lent ordinarily preach 
in a high and flowery style, or at least in a manner not 
adapted to the capacity of the poor. They have their 
sermons committed to memory, and cannot change 
them, whether their audience consists of the learned or 
ignorant. When the preachers of the villages came to 
ask the blessing of Cardinal Pignatelli, Archbishop of 
Naples, his Eminence recommended them to address 
the people in a simple and popular style. For, said his 
Eminence, the greater part of the people being illiterate, 
they derive no fruit from the sermons unless the lan 
guage be accommodated to their capacity. He then 
added, Perhaps you will tell me that the prescription is 
already written. I then answer, Oh, what a pity for the 
patients ! 

The remarks of this holy prelate were most just; 
for, what benefit can a sick man derive from remedies 
which have been prescribed without a knowledge of his 

Hence, when the poor people of the country places 
are asked what fruit they have received from the ser 
mon, they answer that they could not understand it 

on the Utility of Missions. 77 

because the preacher spoke Latin. It is not true that 
these preachers always speak Latin, but their language 
is so little adapted to the weak understanding of the 
ignorant that to them it is as unintelligible as if it were 
Latin. I assert, and in this assertion I believe I am not 
rash, that it would be sometimes better for the ignorant 
to be absent from these sermons. For after listening 
for an hour to a sermon, in the hope of deriving from it 
spiritual profit, they find that their time has been lost, 
and thus they conceive a dislike for the word of God, 
and become worse than they were before. Hence it is 
that after the sermons of Lent we see the same bad 
practices, the same animosities, and hear the same blas 
phemies and the same obscenities. The greatest misery 
of the poor in the country is, as Contenson says, that 
there is no one to break to them the word of God; and 
therefore, he says, woe to the bishops, woe to the negli 
gent priest ! 

But, it will be asked, are there not over the poor in the 
villages pastors who preach every Sunday? Yes, there 
are pastors who preach; but we must consider that all 
pastors do not, or cannot break the bread of the divine 
word to the illiterate in the manner prescribed by the 
Council of Trent. " They shall feed the people com 
mitted to them with wholesome words, according to 
their own capacity, and that of their people, by teach 
ing them the things which it is necessary for all to know 
unto salvation, and by announcing to them, with brief 
ness and plainness of discourse, the vices which they 
must avoid, and the virtues which they must follow 
after." 2 Hence it often happens that the people draw 

"Tot parvuli in oppidulis petunt panem et non est qui frangat 
eis. Vae, vae praelatis dormientibus, vae presbyteris otiosis!" Loco cit. 

" Plebes sibi commissas, pro earum capacitate, pascant salutaribus 
verbis, docendo necessaria ad salutem annunciandoque cum brevitate et 
facilitate sermonis vitia quse eas declinare, et virtutes, quas sectari opor- 
teat." Sess. 5, c. 2, de Ref. 

78 Letter to a Bishop 

but little fruit from the sermon of the pastor, either be 
cause he has but little talent for preaching, or because 
his style is too high or his discourse too long. Besides, 
many of those who stand in the greatest need of instruc 
tion do not go to the sermon of the parish priest. 
Moreover, Jesus Christ tells us that No prophet is ac 
cepted in his own country. 1 And when the people always 
hear the same voice, the sermon makes but little im 
pression upon them. 

But the sermons of the missionaries who devote their 
lives to the missions are well arranged, and are all 
adapted to the capacity of the ignorant as well as of 
the learned. In their sermons, as well as in their in 
structions, the word of God is broken. Hence, in the 
mission the poor are made to understand the mysteries 
of faith and the precepts of the Decalogue, the manner 
of receiving the sacraments with fruit, and the means of 
persevering in the grace of God: they are inflamed with 
fervor, and are excited to correspond with the divine 
love, and to attend to the affair of salvation. Hence we 
see such a concourse of the people at the missions, where 
they hear strange voices and simple and popular dis 
courses. Besides, in the missions, the eternal truths 
which are best calculated to move the heart, such as the 
importance of salvation, the malice of sin, death, judg 
ment, hell, eternity, etc., are proposed in a connected 
manner, so that it would be a greater wonder that a dis 
solute sinner should persevere in his wickedness, than 
that he should be converted. Hence, in the missions, 
many sinners give up their evil habits, remove proxi 
mate occasions of sin, restore ill-gotten goods, and re 
pair injuries. Many radically extirpate all sentiments 
of hatred, and forgive their enemies from their hearts; 
and many who had not approached the sacraments for 

1 " Nemo propheta acceptus est in patria sua." Luke, iv. 24. 

on the Utility of Missions. 79 

many years, or who received them unworthily, make 
good confessions during the missions. 

It has been said that, during the ten or fifteen days 
which the mission lasts, the missionaries have given 
absolution to many relapsing sinners, who would require 
a trial of many months before they could be safely ab 
solved. Would to God that all confessions were made 
with the same dispositions with which they are made in 
the missions. Oh, how small should be the number of 
damned souls ! Surely length of time is not the only 
means of ascertaining the dispositions of a penitent; it 
may be a very fallacious means. How many are there 
who, in order to receive absolution during the time of 
the paschal precept, abstain for a month and more from 
the habits of sin, who interrupt their evil practices, and 
relapse immediately after? I therefore am of opinion 
that the disposition of a penitent may be better known 
from the deep impression made by the sermons, from 
the compunction of heart which he manifests, from the 
resolution which he makes, and from the means which 
he adopts in order to avoid sin, than from length of 
time. St. Cyprian says that charity is perfected, not 
so much by length of time, as by the efficacy of grace. 
And St. Thomas says that God sometimes infuses so 
much compunction into the hearts of sinners that they 
instantly acquire perfect sanctity. 1 At a synod of the 
Bishops at Flanders, held at Brussels, the following de 
cree was made: "The confessor, in the case of greater 
sinners, even when they are backsliders, should not ask 
that they should perform works of penance for a nota 
ble time, but he should with the holy Fathers be mind 
ful that God in the conversion of the sinner considers 
not the measure of time but of sorrow." 2 Moreover, 

"Quandoque tanta commotione convertit (Deus) cor hominis, ut 

subito perfecte consequatur sanitatem spiritualem." P. 3, q. 86, c. 5. 

" Confessarius a quibusvis peccatoribus gravioribus etiam recidivis. 

8o Letter to a Bishop 

since the matter of the sacrament of penance is moral 
and not physical, it is sufficient for the confessor to have 
a moral certainty which (as the author of the Instructor 
of Young Confessors says) is nothing else than a prudent 
probable judgment, not opposed by a prudent doubt of 
the dispositions of the penitent. Those who have as 
sisted in giving missions, and who are accustomed to 
hear confessions, know well the difference between the 
confessions made on other occasions and the confes 
sions made during the missions. They are fully con 
vinced that in the missions penitents confess their sins 
with true sorrow, and with a firm purpose of amend 

The reparation of so many sacrilegious confessions in 
which sins are concealed through shame, particularly by 
women, should of itself be sufficient to render the mis 
sions very desirable. This great evil of bad confessions 
is more common in small villages in which there are but 
few confessors, who are acquainted with all the inhabi 
tants. Penitents are ashamed to confess their sins to 
confessors whom they meet every day, and thus through 
shame they continue to make sacrilegious confessions 
during their whole lives. Many, through this accursed 
shame, conceal their sins even at the hour of death, and 
thus sacrilegiously receive the last sacraments. Hence, 
the reparation of so many bad confessions is one of the 
greatest advantages of the missions. The people, know 
ing that the missionaries are strangers who will remain 
only for a few days, and whom they shall never see 
again, are easily induced, by the terrors of the divine 
judgments proposed in the sermons of the mission, to 
confess the sins which they had before concealed. 

Hence I say that in every village the mission should 

stata lege, non exigat ut per notabile tempus prsevia exercuerint opera 
poenitentise ; sed cum sanctis Patribus expendat Deum, in conversione 
peccatoris, non tarn considerari mensuram temporis quam doloris." 

on the Utility of Missions. 81 

continue as long as will be necessary for the mission 
aries to hear the confessions of all the inhabitants; 
otherwise, many persons will not be able to make their 
confession to the Fathers, and thus their consciences 
will be perplexed and troubled. For, by the sermons, 
scruples are excited; but by the sermons alone, a person 
addicted to bad habits, to unjust contracts, or inveterate 
hatred is not sufficiently taught what he must do in 
order to tranquillize his conscience. But in confession 
everything is adjusted, and the penitent is instructed 
how to make restitution for injuries done to others in 
their property or character, how to remove the occa 
sions of his sins, and how to pardon injuries. But if 
the doubts and scruples excited by the sermons be not 
removed in the confessional, many persons will be more 
perplexed and troubled in mind than they were before 
the mission began. And if a person whose past confes 
sions were sacrilegious cannot confess to the mission 
aries, he will, being obliged to make his confession to 
the priests of the village, continue, as before, to conceal 
his sins. Where the mission is so short that all the 
inhabitants of the place have not time to make their 
confession to the missionaries, it will do more injury 
than service to many souls. For, some persons whose 
ignorance rendered the omission of certain sins in con 
fession excusable, being instructed in their obligation, 
will be found to confess these sins, but will not have 
courage to disclose these to the confessor of the place: 
thus, they will commit sacrileges and be lost. 

Finally, all the world knows the immense good which 
has been and is daily done by the missions. A descrip 
tion of the innumerable conversions of sinners, produced 
by means of the missions, would be too long for this 
letter; but I shall mention a few. 

Speaking of the missions of Father Segneri the 
younger, the celebrated Muratori says that the entire 

82 Letter to a Bishop 

people gave up their employments to attend his ser 
mons. He says that hatred for their sins and compunc 
tion of heart were plainly depicted in the countenances 
of all. Human respect and human feelings were trodden 
under foot, the most obdurate sinners were converted, 
and the confessors were obliged to hear confessions not 
only by day but by night. He adds that after the mis 
sion the whole town appeared to be changed: scandals 
were removed, abuses corrected, inveterate and obstinate 
animosities ceased, and blasphemies, imprecations, and 
obscenities were no longer heard. A similar descrip 
tion has been published of the fruits of the missions of 
Father Joseph Carabantes, a Capuchin; but in one city 
the people were so deeply penetrated with compunction 
that almost all of them went through the streets in the 
garments of penance, scourging themselves, and with 
tears asking of God the pardon of their sins. 

Speaking of the missions given by the venerable 
priests of the congregation of St. Vincent de Paul, the 
author of his life says that, during a mission in the 
diocese of Palestrina in 1657, a young man whose arm 
had been cut off by an enemy, having met his enemy in 
a public street after the sermon, cast himself at his feet, 
aslved pardon for the hatred he had borne him, and, 
rising up, embraced him with so much affection that all 
who were present wept through joy, and many, moved 
by his example, pardoned all the injuries that they had 
received from their enemies. In the same diocese there 
were two widows who had been earnestly entreated but 
constantly refused to pardon certain persons who had 
killed their husbands. During the mission they were 
perfectly reconciled with the murderers, in spite of the 
remonstrance of a certain person who endeavored to 
persuade them to the contrary, saying that the murders 
were but recent, and that the blood of their husbands 
was still warm. The following fact is stUl more won- 

on the Utility of Missions. 83 

derful: In a certain town, which shall be nameless,* 
vindictiveness prevailed to such an extent that parents 
taught their children how to take revenge for every 
offence, however small; this vice was so deeply rooted 
that it appeared impossible to persuade the people to 
pardon injuries. The people came to the exercises of 
the mission with sword and musket, and many with 
other weapons. For some time the sermons did not 
produce a single reconciliation; but on a certain day, 
the preacher, through a divine inspiration, presented the 
crucifix to the audience, saying: Now let every one who 
bears malice to his enemies come and show that for the 
love of his Saviour he wishes to pardon them: let him 
embrace them in Jesus Christ. After these words a 
parish priest whose nephew had been lately killed 
came up to the preacher and kissed the crucifix, and, 
calling the murderer, who was present, embraced him 
cordially. By this example and by the words of the 
preacher the people were so much moved that for an 
hour and a half they were employed in the church in 
making peace with their enemies and embracing those 
whom they had before hated. The hour being late, 
they continued to do the same on the following day, so 
that parents pardoned the murder of their children, 
wives of their husbands, and children of their fathers 
and brothers. These reconciliations were made with so 
many tears and so much consolation that the inhabitants 
long continued to bless God for the signal favor bestowed 
on the town. It is also related that many notorious rob 
bers and assassins, being moved by the sermon, or by 
what they heard from others of it, gave up their arms 

* In the Life of the saint by Abelly, 1. 4, ch. 5, this place is called 
Niolo, situated in the island of Corsica, where a mission was given in 
1652. This Life presents many other very interesting details about the 
good done in the missions given by the children of St. Vincent de Paul. 

&4 Letter to a Bishop 

and began to lead a Christian life. Nearly forty of 
these public malefactors were converted in a single 

We read in his life of the stupendous effects produced 
by the missions of Father Leonard of Port Maurice, of the 
reformed Franciscans. In a village of Corsica called 
Mariana murders were so frequently committed through 
revenge that entire families were extinguished; such 
was the fruit of a mission given by Father Leonard that 
at the end of it there was not a single individual in the 
town who had not made peace with his enemies. In 
another place, called Casaccone, there was a family who 
obstinately refused to be reconciled with certain persons 
who had offended them. But when, at the close of the 
mission, the preacher declared that he did not intend to 
bless those who retained sentiments of hatred in their 
hearts, all the members of that family came forward, 
and with many tears made peace with their opponents. 
During the mission in this place, a young man came 
from a distance, for the purpose of killing an enemy, 
whom he expected to find at the exercises of the mis 
sions; but by hearing the sermon he was converted, laid 
aside his hatred and made a general confession. In a 
town called Castel d Acqua, there was a great number 
of opposite factions: during the mission they came one 
day, armed, to the church. Great slaughter was appre 
hended; but by the sermon their hearts were filled with 
compunction: they went of their own accord to the 
preacher, and a common peace was established. In an 
other place there were two parties who had been at 
variance for twenty years; in these contentions many 
persons were killed. Through the obstinacy of their 
chief, whose name was Lupo, one of the parties at the 
beginning of the mission refused to make peace; but at 
the end of the mission, seeing that his opponents were 
reconciled with God, and that he was still the enemy of 

on the Utility of Missions. 85 

God, Lupo was struck with remorse, and offered to 
make peace: thus the two parties were reconciled. In 
Livorno great preparations were made for the amuse 
ment of the carnival; but as soon as the mission began, 
the masks and dances and, because no person would go 
to the theatres, even the public comedies were given up. 
These are ordinary, not extraordinary, fruits of all mis 
sions : I therefore abstain from saying more on this 

Let us now come to the objections that are made 
against the utility of the missions. It is said in the first 
place that the fruit of the missions is only temporary, 
that, though it appears great, it lasts but a short time, 
and that the wicked become worse than they were be 
fore. I answer, would to God that all who are con 
verted would persevere! It is one of the miseries of 
human nature that many who recover the grace of God 
lose it again by sin. But though it should be admitted 
that the fruits of the missions are not permanent, it is at 
least certain that, during the mission, bad practices are 
given up, scandals are removed, blasphemies cease, a 
great deal of ill-gotten property is restored, and many 
bad confessions are repaired. But it is not true that, 
after the missions, all sinners become worse than they 
were before; many persevere in the grace of God, and 
others, if they relapse, abstain for many months from 
mortal sin. Moreover, by listening to the sermons of 
the missions, the people acquire a more perfect knowl 
edge of God and of the importance of salvation, and a 
greater horror of sin; and if they relapse into sin, they 
endeavor to rise again at the time of the Paschal Com 
munion. I hold for certain that, if among all those 
who have attended the sermons any one die within a 
year after the missions, he will scarcely be lost. The 
fruits of the mission are always visible at least for a year 
or two; and if they do not last longer, it is because the 

86 Letter to a Bishop 

priests of the place do not labor to preserve and main 
tain them by assembling the people to meditation and 
to the visitation of the Blessed Sacrament, and, above all, 
by attending to the confessional. " V<z" says the 
learned Contenson, " pralatis dormientibus, VCR presbytcris 
otiosis." But when, after three or four years, the land 
becomes dry, it is necessary to refresh it by another 

The second objection against the missions is that the 
consciences of many are disturbed by scruples excited 
by the sermons. Oh what an objection! Then, rather 
than disturb their conscience, it is better to allow sin 
ners to slumber in the lethargy of sin, and in an ac 
cursed peace which is the seal of damnation! The 
devil wishes that the false peace of sinners, which keeps 
them in a state of perdition, should not be disturbed! 
But it is the duty of a pastor to awaken those who sleep 
in sin, and to warn them of the danger of damnation to 
which they are exposed; and surely than the missions, 
there is no better means of arousing sinners to a sense 
of the perils by which they are beset. 

Hence, bishops should take care that missions be given 
in every village, however small. Where there are many 
villages near one another, some missionaries select for 
the mission a place in the midst of these villages. The 
greatest sinners, who are consequently the most blind 
and the most careless of their salvation, do not go to the 
exercises of the mission unless they are performed in 
their own church. They remain at home under the 
pretext that the church in which the mission is given 
is too distant, or that the weather is bad, and thus they 
continue in their miserable state of perdition. I speak 
from experience; for we found that many places derive 
little or no profit from the missions, either because these 
missions were given in the midst of several villages or 
because they were too short. Hence, when the mission- 

on the Utility of Missions. 87 

aries of our little Congregation go into any diocese, it 
is usual to give the mission in every village, however 
small, at least for eight days, and in populous towns for 
fifteen, twenty, or thirty days, until the confessions of 
all are heard. 1 

The third objection is that the exercises of the mis 
sions generally end at night, and are therefore a cause 
of much scandal. I answer that they who attend the 
exercises are struck with the terror of God s judgments; 
and should any one during that time be disposed to 
tempt others to sin, he could not expect to succeed: but 
even though some attempt should be made to draw 
others into sins, must the mission be given up? If, to 
avoid all danger of evil, it were necessary to abstain 
from what is good and profitable, we should prohibit 
festivals of the saints, processions, and pilgrimages to 
holy places, because in these things there is always some 
disorder; we should prohibit confession, Communion, 
and hearing Mass, because even in these there are some 
times scandals and sacrileges. But we know that the 
Church not only permits but even approves and com 
mands these things. 

But it is said that from preaching at night many sins 
arise: and will there be no sins if the missions be given 
up? Ah, if the missions be given up, bad habits, quar 
rels, blasphemies, and all scandals will continue. But 
at least, during the mission, thousands of sins are avoided. 
But you will ask why are the sermons preached at night ? 
I answer that, where the people attend by day, the ser 
mons should be preached during the day and not at 
night; but, where they cannot attend by day, what can 
be done ? It is certain that if, in the country places, the 
poor laboring classes, who form almost the entire audi 
ence, do not attend the sermons, the mission will be lost; 
but however strongly they may be exhorted to attend 
1 See treatise on the EXERCISES OF THE MISSIONS, ch. x. 


Letter to a Bishop 

at an early hour, these poor people cannot come till 
after the work of the day. Masters and employers are 
recommended to allow their servants and workmen to 
give up their work at an early hour during the days of 
the mission; but these employers look to their own 
interest and pay but little attention to such recommen 
dations. The workmen, unless they complete the day s 
work, are not paid. Without their wages they are not 
able to provide food for themselves or their families: 
hence in the villages the poor cannot attend till about 
sunset; and if they do not attend, I say the mission is 
lost. 1 

The fourth objection is that some imprudent mis 
sionaries preach from the pulpit against the sins which 
they hear in the confessional, and excite in the people a 
hatred for confession. This objection has been made 
by some wicked persons who hate the missions, and is 
utterly destitute of foundation. The first thing the 
missionaries do after their arrival at the place of the 
mission, is to inform themselves of the prevailing sins 
and abuses of the place, and these they attack in their 
sermons. But they are careful never to mention in the 
pulpit any circumstance which, could in the most re 
mote manner reveal any sin heard in confession. But 
of what are they to speak in the pulpit ? Is it of ecsta 
sies, raptures, visions, or of revelations ? No, they must 
preach against the vices which are most common, and 
which are ordinarily committed in all places, such as 
impurity, blasphemies, hatred, theft, and the like. 

Finally, it is said that the missions, being repeated 
every three years, are too frequent, and therefore produce 
little or no impression on the minds of the people. I 
admit that, between two successive missions in the same 
place, there should be a considerable interval of time; 
but an interval of three years is quite sufficient. For, 
1 See EXERCISES OF THE MISSIONS, ch. vii. art. 8, n. 4. 

on the Utility of Missions. 89 

ordinarily speaking, in that space of time many forget 
the sermons of the missons, many relapse into sin, and 
very many fall into tepidity. A new mission will renew 
the fervor of the tepid, and will restore God s grace to 
those who have relapsed. But it is not true that re 
peated missions do not produce much fruit. For 
although in the second mission the people do not mani 
fest so much compunction as in the first, the fruit is not 
withstanding very great. For, as I have already said, 
many who have returned to their former bad habits 
rise again from sin, many who became tepid begin again 
to serve God with fervor, and many are more firmly 
established in the practice of virtue. Hence, to renew 
the fervor and resolution of the people, the missionaries 
of our little Congregation usually return after some 
months to the place in which they have given missions. 
And we have learned by experience the great advan 
tages which flow from these renewals. 

I have said enough; I only entreat yom Lordship to 
continue with your wonted zeal to procure every three 
years a mission for every village in your diocese. Do 
not attend to the objections of those who speak against 
the missions through interested motives or through 
ignorance of the great advantages of the missions. I 
also pray you to oblige the pastors and priests of the vil 
lages to continue the exercises recommended to them 
by the missionaries, such as common mental prayer in 
the church, visit to the most holy sacrament, familiar 
sermons every week, the Rosary, and other similar de 
votions. For it frequently happens that, through the 
neglect of the priests of the place, the greater part of 
the fruit produced by the mission is lost. I recommend 
myself to your prayers and remain, 

Your very devoted and obedient servant, 

Bishop of St. Agatha, etc. 

(ffccrciscs of tljc 41lission0. 

OUR saint describes in this treatise the exercises of 
the missions such as they are given or were given at his 
time at Naples; but we may clearly gather from what 
he says, that he does not pretend that the same method 
should be followed and the same means employed in 
every place and at all times. This is what he himself, 
in his old age, gives us to understand when he heard 
that there was an intention of introducing his Institute 
into Austria. "The missions," he said, " are not there 
given in the way in which we give ours: instruction or 
catechism is more useful there than preaching, because 
the people are living in the midst of Lutherans and Cal- 
vinists." Moreover, the statutes of his Congregation 
lay down this regulation for the missionaries: "Those 
ceremonies that are obsolete, ludicrous, and unusual in 
the country or places where they preach, shall be omitted ; 
and as a general rule, the means of exciting the feelings 
of the people shall be used but sparingly, or shall even 
be omitted, especially in large places, and in places 
where the people are well educated." t{e that presides 
over the mission should, therefore, consider the circum 
stances of time and place where the mission is given, 
and, above all, the character of the people, so as to 
select and direct the exercises in a manner that will 
produce most fruit. ED. 


THERE are some who assert that the missions do more 
harm than good, because they trouble, they say, the 
people and their consciences, and because, if the people 
abstain from committing sin during the mission, they 
fall back into vice as soon as it is over, and become 
worse than they were before. Those that speak in this 
way, having had no experience in regard to missions, 
are ignorant of the great number of souls that are 
thereby gained for God. But he that practically knows 
what missions are, is fully aware how many inveterate 
enmities they remove, how many bad habits they root 
out, how many restitutions of ill-gotten goods they 
bring about, how many law-suits a fruitful source of 
hatred they adjust, and above all, how many bad con 
fessions they repair, especially in the country in small 
places, where in this respect one may say that the mis 
sions are not only useful, as in large cities, but are even 
necessary. Indeed, as in these places the inhabitants 
know one another, it is not a rare thing that shame 
prevents them from manifesting their sins to the con 
fessors of the place. 

It is true, many at the opening of the mission com 
plain that the missionaries have come to create disturb 
ance among them; but these complaints are not uttered 
by good people: they are uttered by those that live 
thoughtlessly in their sins, and do not wish to be dis 
turbed. Such is the aim of the devil: he does not wish 
that his unhappy slaves should be roused from their 
false peace in which they live a peace that is to be the 
cause of their eternal torment and their eternal despair ! 

It is also true that after the mission many will relapse 
into sin. Ah ! would to God that all those that are 
once converted would have the happiness of persevering 



in the state of grace till death; but so great is human 
frailty, that many sinners after having recovered the 
grace of God, again lose it. Nevertheless, even if no 
other advantage could be gained, it is certain that, at 
least during the time of the mission, many sins are 
avoided. The missions, however, bring back to God 
many souls, who afterwards persevere in God s grace 
till death; and if many should happen to relapse, they 
keep fro-m sin at least for several months, and will 
acquire during the mission a greater horror of sin, a bet 
ter knowledge of God and of the importance of their 
eternal salvation. 1 

As for the exercises of the missions, there are many 
books that treat of them at length, especially the beau 
tiful work of the venerable priest Philip de Mura, which 
bears the title, The Missionary instructed, from which I 
confess that I have taken the greater part of the present 
little work. However, it was for the greater convenience 
of the young members of our Congregation that I made 
this abridgment, in which I have briefly set forth rules 
and examples of all the exercises in accordance with 
the usage of the missions given by our Institute. To 
these I have added many things and many reflections 
which an experience of thirty-four years has made me 
regard as very useful to souls. I hope that this little 
work will also be profitable to many other priests; for 
therein they will find expressed in a clear and succinct 
manner what is said diffusely in other books, the more 
so since a plain and concise style is more pleasing at 
the present time, in which one wishes to read little and 
know much. Besides, in this book will be found exam 
ples written in a familiar style,, proper for missions, 
which should certainly be very different from the style 
in which Sunday or Lenten sermons are preached. 

1 These objections are refuted more at length in the Letter to a Bishop, 
page 73. 

(ftlje certifies of ll)e Missions. 

EXHORTATIONS (Sentimenti). 

THERE are four kinds of exhortations; namely, the 
exhortations of the evening, the exhortations of the 
day, the exhortations during the taking of the discipline, 
and the exhortations of peace. 

To give to each of these exhortations the suitable 
form, it is necessary to consider the aim and purpose of 
each. Thus: 

1. The exhortation of the evening is given in order to 
rouse the sinner and to call him to the mission. 

2. The exhortation of the day is given to gather 
together the faithful and to lead them to the church. 

3. The exhortation of the discipline is given to move 
sinners to contrition, and to do penance for their sins. 

4. Finally, the exhortation of peace is given to recon 
cile enemies. 


The Exhortation of the Evening.* 

i. The exhortations of the evening contribute greatly 
to inspire the people with fervor from the very begin- 

* This exercise is scarcely in vogue, outside of Italy. It was the 
practice of St. Alphonsus in his missions to send some of the mission 
aries, accompanied by clerics with a cross and lighted torches, to make 
short exhortations at the corner of the streets and public places for the 
first few evenings of the mission. The object of these exhortations 

96 Exercises of the Missions. 

ning of the mission. To arouse sinners and to induce 
them to come to church in order to hear the sermons, 
it is not sufficient that the opening of the mission be 
announced to them, or that they be called by the sound 
of the bell; they must be moved by the power of the 
word, and by the fear of the chastisements that God 
has reserved for them. Without these exhortations, at 
least during the first four or five days, we shall see the 
church but little frequented by those that need the mis 
sion most. On the contrary, we know by experience 
that the evening exhortations awaken in a wonderful 
way these destitute souls, and determine them to go to 
the church with the rest. 

2. These exhortations should be short, and even very 
short, so that they do not last longer than half or quarter 
of an hour, either because being given in the evening, in 
the open air, and mostly in winter, they may become 
inconvenient both for the speaker and for the listeners, 
or even because several exhortations are given in the same 
evening, and must be given with fervor and vehemence, 
by using startling expressions which, like arrows, strike 
the ears and hearts of the hearers. Young missionaries 
often have this defect, that they prolong these exhorta 
tions as well as the other smaller exercises of the mission, 
and almost make sermons out of them. They thereby 
grow tedious to the listeners and disturb the order of 
the mission, so that there is no time left for other more 
necessary exercises. 

3. The evening exhortations are concluded, not by an 
act of contrition, but by a terrible Sentence (sentenza 
terribile]. Only at the end, after returning to the 
church, another very short exhortation is made, and is 

was to excite the people to penance, and invite them to attend the 
exercises of the mission. A stanza of some suitable hymn was first 
sung, and then the missionary gave a short but animated exhortation. 


Chap. L Exhortations. /. 97 

concluded by an act of contrition expressed in a few 


The evening exhortation contains five parts; namely: 

1. The Introduction with the Proposition; 2. The Am 
plification; 3. Moral reflection with the invitation to 
penance; 4. The Announcement of the powers with 
which the missionaries are invested, as also of the exer 
cises of the mission, and of the indulgences that are 
attached to the mission; 5. The terrible Sentence. 

I. The INTRODUCTION, preceded by the singing of a 
hymn, may be begun in different ways, of which the 
following are examples: i. By an EXCLAMATION: "O 
eternal God ! how good Thou art ! Men despise Thee, 
flee from Thee; and Thou goest in search of them; 
Thou callest to them in order to offer them pardon." 

2. By a REPROACH: "Sinner! tell me: When will you 
cease to offend God ?" (It must here be remarked that 
the exhortation should not be begun by the use of 
abusive words, such as wretched, villa-nous, crime-laden 
souls, and the like, for the hearers grow angry when 
they hear themselves thus called at the beginning of the 
discourse.) 3. By an INTERROGATION: " My dear brother, 
tell me: At the end of this kind of life that you are lead 
ing, what will become of you ?" 4. By expressing a 
sentiment of COMPASSION: " Poor sinner ! who would 
not pity your unhappy state, knowing that you are in 
disgrace with God, etc. ?" 5. By an EXPOSITION: "My 
dear Christian, I have come to tell you in the name of 
God, that he is ready to pardon you, if, etc." 

After this introduction or the like, the PROPOSITION, 
or the argument of the exhortation, is announced. The 
proposition is drawn from the hymn that is sung be 
fore. Let us suppose that the hymn is as follows: 

98 Exercises of the Missions. 

" Lo ! a God of all compassion 

Calls thee; shall he call in vain? 
If thou yet reject his mercy, 
Will he ever call again ?" 

After the people have heard this hymn, we may thus 
address them: " My dear Christians, I have come this 
evening to bring you two messages; the one a message 
of joy, the other a message of terror: if you return to 
God, who calls you back to him during this holy mis 
sion, he will embrace you as his dear children; but if 
you do not return, and do not return soon, God will no 
longer call you, and you will be damned." Sometimes 
it will be well to begin the introduction by the propo 
sition itself; thus: "You understand me, ye sinners: 
if now you return to God, you will find him full of 
mercy; but if you do not return to him immediately, he 
will turn his back upon you and will no more call you." 
Sometimes, also, it will be well to repeat the very 
words of the hymn; for example: "My Brethren, you 
have heard what the hymn says: 

Soon thy life will end, poor sinner, 
Know st thou when the end will be ? " 

II. As regards the Amplification, the following rules 
must be observed: 

If the proposition is not a truth of faith, as for ex 
ample, that God after a certain number of sins aban 
dons the sinner, it should be confirmed by some succinct 
arguments, presented in short, clear, and quite simple 
periods. Some short reflection should also be made, 
but without employing comparisons, frightful examples, 
or texts of Scripture, unless these texts are short and 
generally known, such as: God is not mocked. It is ap 
pointed unto men once to die. Depart from Me, ye cursed, 
into everlasting fire ; etc. The following is an example of 
amplification: If we take the proposition given above, 

Cliap. L Exhortations. /. 99 

namely, that God abandons obstinate sinners, we may 
briefly give the following reason: " He does not deserve 
mercy who uses God s mercy only to offend him more. 
The Lord bears with the sinner and gives him time, so 
that he may be converted and may weep over the evil 
that he has done; but when God sees this ungrateful 
sinner, instead of profiting by the time that he has given 
him to be converted, using it only to heap sin upon sin, 
he deprives him of life by a just judgment." After 
wards this short reflection may be added: " Put an end 
to all this sin put an end to it, my dear Brethren: know 
that the greater the patience that God has had with 
you, the greater will be the chastisement that he re 
serves for you, if you do not hasten to amend your life." 

But if the proposition has for its object some truth of 
faith, as the certainty of death, of judgment, etc., it will 
suffice to amplify it by reflections; for example, in 
speaking of death: "What torture and what despair 
will you not experience when you see by the light of the 
candle that the time for doing good has passed for 
you, and that at this last moment, with your head quite 
stupefied by fear and confusion, you are no longer 
capable of doing anything?" etc. 

III. The amplification is followed by the MORAL APPLI 
" What then would be your folly, my dear Brethren, if 
instead of returning to God, now that he calls you, you 
expose yourselves to the danger of being abandoned by 
God, and consequently of going to endure an eternity 
of torments in hell! Return to him; do not delay; 
profit by this favorable moment, in which Jesus Christ 
himself comes to seek you by a holy mission in your 
own home." 

It must here be remarked, that in the moral applica 
tion no particular vice should be named; for some one 
of the hearers might take offence, thinking that on his 

ioo Exercises of tJie Missions. 

account the exhortation was given. And when the ex 
hortation is given purposely for the benefit of some 
scandalous person, it should not be given too near his 
house, but at a certain distance, so that he may hear 
it without suspecting that the exhortation is given ex 
pressly on his account. 

IV. Here follows the ANNOUNCEMENT of the mission, 
which begins or has already begun, by making known 
the powers with which the missionaries are invested, the 
exercises that are to take place in the church, and the 
indulgences that may be gained according to a plan 
that will afterwards be given. 

V. We conclude by the TERRIBLE SENTENCE which 
should correspond to the proposition of the exhorta 
tion. This sentence should be short, but should consist 
of words grave and striking, which will remain engraven 
on the minds of the hearers; for example: "Tremble, 
yes, tremble, ye sinners; perhaps this very night, if you 
do not resolve to amend your life, God may permit 
death to surprise you, and you may die and be con 
demned to hell!" Or: "If you do not now weep over 
your sins, think that you may have to weep over them 
for all eternity in hell." Or: "Continue, O obstinate 
sinner! continue to offend God. But remember: In the 
valley of Josaphat I await you; there you will hear the 
sentence which Jesus Christ will pass upon you: Depart 
from me ye cursed into everlasting fire !" Sometimes we 
may finish by the very words of the hymn, if they well 
express the terrible sentence. Example: 

" Who can tell ? perhaps, my brother, 
Death this night will come to thee." 

Chap. L Exhortations. /. 101 


First Example. 

" Lo ! a God of all compassion 

Calls thee ; shall he call in vain ? 
If thou yet reject his mercy, 
Will he ever call again ?" 

1. INTRODUCTION. Dear Christians, I have come this 
evening to bring you two messages; the one a message 
of joy, the other a message of terror: if you return to 
God, who calls you back to him during this holy mis 
sion, he will embrace you as his own dear children; but 
if you do not return, and do not return soon, God will 
no longer call you, and you will be damned. 

2. AMPLIFICATION. Hear, my Brethren: the Lord par 
dons the sins of him who repents of them; but he does 
not pardon him who has the will to commit sin. See for 
how many years God has borne with you, and is saying 
to your heart: Cease, my child; amend your life; offend 
me no more! And what have you done? Always the 
same thing: you have confessed, you have promised; 
yet you have always begun again to sin, you always 
continue to offend God! For what are you waiting? 
That God may take you from this world and cast you 
into hell? Do you not see that God cannot bear with 
you any longer? 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. Let us, then, my Brethren, 
give up evil, now that a mission is offered to you; give 
yourselves to God, who deigns still to wait for you, and 
who is ready to pardon you all the offences that you 
have committed, if you wish to amend your life. Come 
to the church where the mission is going on; come to 
hear the sermons, and make a good confession. Do not 
doubt that if you truly desire to abandon sin, I promise 

1 02 Exercises of t/ie Missions. 

you on the part of Jesus Christ that you will receive the 
grace of pardon. 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT. See, Jesus Christ has come among 
you with his holy mission, which begins to-morrow. The 
missionaries have the power of absolving all reserved 
cases, even censures reserved to the Pope; they can also 
dispense from vows. In the church there will be every 
day, morning and evening, various touching and salu 
tary exercises, such as the recitation of the Rosary, with 
instructions and sermons. Moreover, those that attend 
these exercises, if they confess and communicate, will 
gain a plenary indulgence when they receive at the end 
of the mission the Papal blessing. You see that God 
opens at this moment the treasury of his mercy; you 
can sanctify yourselves if you wish. 

5. SENTENCE. What do you say? What do you re 
solve to do? Yes or no; do you desire no more to 
offend God? Who knows whether it is not the last 
appeal that the Lord addresses to you ? Hasten to take 
a resolution. Do you wish to wait until God puts an end 
to your disorders by casting you into hell without the 
least hope of ever remedying your misfortune ? Go, my 
dear Brethren, enter your homes, and reflect on what 
you have heard this evening; recommend yourselves to 
the Blessed Virgin, and ask her to enlighten you. 

Second Example. 

" Sinner, them art foe of heaven, 

And thou tremblest not with fear? 
Cease those sins, my child, ah ! leave them 
Death advances, hell is near." 

i. INTRODUCTION. O sinner, you remain an enemy of 
your God without trembling ! . . . My dear Brethren, if 
you are in the state of sin, it is certain that God is your 
enemy: God, I say, who if he wishes can this very mo- 

Chap. /. Exhortations* /. 103 

ment cast you into hell ! And you sleep, and you laugh, 
and you do not tremble, and you do not weep . . . ! 

2. AMPLIFICATION. Ah ! for myself, I pity you, be 
cause sin has blinded you, and does not allow you to 
see the danger in which you are of dying at any moment, 
and of going to burn in an abyss of fire for all eternity ! 
Have you perhaps as your enemy only a great man of 
the world from whom you can hide yourselves, from 
whom you can escape by flight, or against whom you 
can defend yourselves? Oh no! it is God whom you 
have as your enemy God who sees you everywhere 
whithersoever you may go, who can reach you wherever 
you are; if he wishes to chastise you, how could you 
defend yourselves against his hand ? 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. My dear Brethren, tell me: 
In living as you do, how can you save yourselves ? Do 
you not see, unhappy sinners, that you are damned ? 
Do you not see that God cannot have patience with you 
any longer? Listen to me this evening: you are now 
the enemies of God, it is true, since you have offended 
him much; but he is ready to pardon you if you wish to 
amend your life. Courage, then, my dear Christians ! 
come to the mission, go to confession, and renounce sin; 
hasten to give yourselves to God, who is still waiting for 
you, who is still calling for you; do not anger him any 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT. See, Jesus Christ has come to 
your very dwellings to invite you to return to him; it is 
on your account that he has sent hither missionaries, 
who have the power, etc. 

5. SENTENCE. O sinners ! what more do you wish 
God to do? Do not, therefore, lose confidence, hope; 
but hope and tremble: if you wish to amend your life, 
hope; if you wish to continue to have God as your 
enemy, tremble yes, tremble that the present appeal 
may not be the last one for you; if you do not resolve 

104 Exercises of the Missions. 

to give yourselves to God, perhaps this very evening 
God will abandon you, and you will be damned ! Go, 
my dear Brethren, enter your houses, and reflect, etc. 

Third Example. 

" Soon thy life will end, poor sinner ; 

Know st thou -when the end will be ? 
Who can tell ? perhaps, my brother, 
Death this night will come to thee." 

i. INTRODUCTION. My Brethren, have you under 
stood what this hymn says to you : "Thy life will end, 
and thou knowest not when the end will be"? See, 
poor sinners, the beautiful life that you are leading 
alas ! far from God, far from the sacraments, far from 
the church. You scarcely hear a Mass on feast days, 
and when you hear it, you do so in a careless manner; 
and then how do you spend the rest of the time? To 
offend, to anger God ! In fact, you live as if you were 
never going to die. 

2. AMPLIFICATION. Unfortunate sinner! do you not 
think of death? But whether you think of it or not, 
whether you wish it or not, a day will come when your 
life will end; you will have to leave this world; your 
body will be buried in the earth, and your soul will 
enter eternity. Do you, my Brethren, believe or do you 
not believe that? It is certain, it is of faith, that you 
must die, and that after this life a life is to begin that 
will never end; and if you are damned, your life will be 
unhappy, you will be in despair forever, as long as God 
will be God. 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. Tell me: if this night, or 
even this moment, while I am speaking to you, death 
were to surprise you, what would become of your poor 
soul? whither would you go, O miserable man? Let 
us, my Brethren, quickly profit by the means of salva 
tion, now that God is waiting for you, and gives you 

Chap. I. Exhortations. /. 105 

time to confess and to regulate your accounts before 
death comes upon you. What do you say ? what do 
you intend to do? You must decide. 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT. See, Jesus Christ has come to call 
you to himself by a mission, and to pardon you if you 
wish to do so. The missionaries have the power, etc. 

5. SENTENCE. I ask again: What do you say? what 
do you wish to do? do you wish to return to God? 
Consider: How many have died since the last mission 
given in this place? How many of those that have 
died are now burning in hell? Why ? because they did 
not wish to give up their wicked lives, and God himself 
has put an end to them. Now do you wish that the 
same thing should happen to you, and that you should 
be condemned to weep in the flames of hell during all 
eternity? Go, my Brethren, into your houses, and re 
flect, etc. 

Fourth Example. 

" Love God who, loveth thee, 

For love itself is he ; 

He bids the sinner weep ; 
He saith: Poor child, from sin depart ; 
Rest thee within thy Father s heart ; 
Turn to thy Shepherd, wandering sheep." 

1. INTRODUCTION. O my God, how good and merciful 
art Thou towards men ! They leave Thee, and Thou 
goest in search of them. They outrage Thee, and Thou 
offerest them pardon and peace. 

2. AMPLIFICATION. My dear Brethren, I come this 
evening on behalf of Jesus Christ to offer you pardon 
and salvation, if you wish to accept them. Tell me: Do 
you merit this grace? The Lord could make you die 
and send you to hell the moment that you offend him; 
yet, see the great mercy which he now shows you : 
instead of punishing you, you see him coming to you 
with this holy mission, in order to pardon you; he 

1 06 Exercises of the Missions. 

comes himself to seek you, to make peace with you; 
it will suffice if you repent of having offended him, and 
if you promise not to offend him any more. 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. Here is what the hymn says: 

" He saith : Poor child, from sin depart; 
Rest thee within thy Father s heart ; 
Turn to thy Shepherd, wandering sheep." 

Now what do you say? how do you respond to the 
appeal that the Lord addresses to you? Ah! do not 
delay any longer, cast yourselves at his feet; come to 
the chu-rch, and make a good confession. 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT. The mission has already begun. 
The missionaries have the power, etc. 

5. SENTENCE. My dear Brethren, listen: if you wish 
to profit by this beautiful occasion of returning to God, 
he has his arms open to receive you; but if you continue 
to shut your ears to his voice, tremble lest he may aban 
don you and may call you no longer. Now if God 
abandons you, woe be to you ! You will die in your 
sins, and you will be cast into hell to weep there without 
any hope of ever remedying your eternal ruin. Go, my 
Brethren, etc. 

Fifth Example. 

" Souls to hell are blindly running, 

Ah ! what myriads, who can tell ? 
On they go, because they think not 
What a fearful thing is hell f" 

1. INTRODUCTION. Sinner, what do you say? You 
say: If I go to hell, I shall not be there alone? If I am 
damned, I must have patience ! Yes, O heavens ! this 
is what so many blind sinners say, and see how they go 
to hell ! And why ? You have heard the words of the 
hymn: "On they go, because they think not what a 
fearful thing is hell !" 

2. AMPLIFICATION. Listen: What you now say was 

Chap. I. Exhortations. /. 107 

also said by so many damned souls that now burn in 
the eternal fire: "If I go there, I shall not be there 
alone ! If I am damned, I must have patience !" But 
at present they do not speak thus. Ah ! would that 
this evening one of the damned came from hell and 
spoke in my place; you would hear him cry out: Un 
happy me! I said that in hell I should not be alone; 
now that I am damned, would that I could be alone in 
my punishment ! Alas ! in the midst of this fire, which 
devours me, in the midst of the darkness, of the smoke 
that envelops me, in the midst of so many other tor 
ments, I must still bear the torment of being in the 
midst of all these damned persons, whose number suffo 
cates me, whose cries stupefy me, whose stench becomes 
insupportable to me. I said: "If I go to hell, I must 
have patience !" Alas ! what patience ! I am dying 
with rage at every moment; I do nothing but utter 
cries and shrieks of despair. I should like to die, and I 
cannot even hope to die. 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. You hear, my Brethren, how 
the damned speak who cared little about hell, and it is 
they whom you are imitating. Hear now what God 
says to you by my mouth : My children, for these 
miserable beings there is no remedy; but there is a 
remedy for you if you wish to use it: ask my pardon; I 
will pardon you, and I will deliver you from hell. 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT. It is for this reason that the Lord 
sends you this mission. The missionaries have the 
power, etc. 

5. SENTENCE. O sinners ! who knows whether this is 
not the last notice, the last mercy, which you receive 
from God? Put an end to all this; the Lord cannot 
bear with you any longer; his vengeance is near. Will 
you believe in hell only when you have arrived there ? 
Ah! take care, you are going there; and if you once 
arrive there, remember that there will be no remedy for 

1 08 Exercises of the Missions. 

your misfortune; think that if you ever fall into that 
abyss of fire, you will never come forth from it; never, 
never. Go, my Brethren, etc. 

Sixth Example, 

" Think, then, ere yet this life is o er, 

On that whereon thy all depends 
That evermore or nevermore, 
Eternity which never ends !" 

i INTRODUCTION. O eternity, eternity! The saints 
tremble at the mere thought of eternity; and ye sinners, 
who are in disgrace with God, you do not fear? You 
do not tremble? It is of faith that he who dies in the 
state of sin goes to burn in the fire of hell for all 
eternity ! 

2. AMPLIFICATION. What is hell ? It is a dark place, 
where one sees only horrible monsters; where one hears 
only cries, shrieks, howling; where one feels only the 
torture of fire and other torments. And how long will 
all these horrors last? During all eternity: always, 
always! Will they ever end? No; never, never! 
Come here, unhappy Judas, thou who hast been in hell 
for so many ages ! tell me: How long will thy punish 
ment last ? Judas answers: Always, always ! And thou, 
unfortunate Cain! tell me: How long hast thou been 
suffering in this abyss of fire? Alas ! answers Cain: for 
many thousand years ! And when will thy punishment 
be over? Ah ! never, never! 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. My dear Brethren, what think 
you? Tell me: How can you sleep with sins upon your 
souls, and as enemies of God ? Does not an eternal hell 
await you ? Why do you not resolve to give up the 
wicked life which you are leading? Now that you can 
do so, why do you not remedy this great ruin that 
threatens you if you do not become reconciled with 
God? Hasten to prevent this misfortune; make a good 

Chap. I. Exhortations. /. 109 

confession, return to God s grace; for he certainly does 
not desire you to be damned. 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT. You already know that the mis 
sion has been begun. What is a mission ? It is Jesus 
Christ, who comes to save his lost children and to deliver 
them from hell. Know that the missionaries have the 
power, etc. 

5. SENTENCE. My Brethren, do not fail to profit by 
this great mercy that God has bestowed upon you to 
day. Now, while shedding tears at the feet of a con 
fessor, you can deliver yourselves from hell; but if you 
do not amend your lives, pay attention to what I am 
going to say to you this evening: you will have the 
misfortune of ending by going to weep in hell during 
all eternity, as long as God will be God ! Go, my 
Brethren, etc. 


(Per li sentimenti di notte.) 

Love God, who loveth thee, 

For love itself is he ; 
He bids the sinner weep ; 
He saith : Poor child, from sin depart ; 
Rest thee within thy Father s heart; 
Turn to thy Shepherd, wandering sheep. 

Tis the Lord hath sent me hither, 

Messenger of pardon free ; 
Day of grace and hour of mercy 

Grace perhaps the last for thee ! 

Lo ! a God of all compassion 

Calls thee ; shall he call in vain ? 
If thou yet reject his mercy, 

Will he ever call again? 

1 o Exercises of the Missions. 

Sinner, thou art foe of heaven, 

And thou tremblest not with fear? 
Cease those sins, my child, ah ! leave them 

Death advances, hell is near. 


Now thy Lord is waiting, waiting; 

But he will not always wait : 
When the day of vengeance breaketh, 

Cries for mercy come too late. 

Turn to God in humble penance, 

Sinner, do not still delay ; 
Do not scorn the love of Jesus, 

Cast his mercy not away. 

Lost in sin, and yet rejoicing ! 

Far from God, and canst thou sleep? 
On the brink of fell damnation, 

And thou carest not to weep? 

Soon thy life will end, poor sinner, 
Know st thou when the end will be? 

Who can tell ? perhaps, my brother, 
Death this night will come to thee. 

Think of death ! that awful moment 

When thy dream of life must end ; 
Boundless bliss or ceaseless torments 

On that moment, death, depend. 

Live thy life of sinful pleasures, 

Sinners, yet the end must come ! 
Then, bold man, thy outraged Saviour 

Shall be Judge to seal thy doom. 

Chap. L Exhortations. /. in 


Whither shall thou fly for refuge 

From that justly angered One, 
Sinner, when he shall reproach thee 

All the evil thou hast done? 

Souls to hell are blindly running, 

Ah ! what myriads, who can tell ? 
On they go, because they think not 

What a fearful thing is hell! 

And when shall hell s sharp pains be o er? 

The insult to God s majesty 
Has been so deep that evermore 

Those pains shall last, eternally. 

Think on that dread eternity 

To which thou art hast ning ever; 
Think of that long futurity 

Of pains that will leave thee never. 


Simultaneous exhortations are given but rarely. This 
means is employed only in certain places when the in 
habitants do not come in sufficient numbers to the church, 
or when there are many scandalous persons who do 
not come to the sermons. 

The object that is proposed in these exhortations is, 
to strike fear into the minds of the hearers; hence the 
exhortations should be filled with threats of the divine 
chastisements, such as an unhappy death, abandonment 
on the part of God, eternal punishments. 

The following is the manner of performing this exer 

1 1 2 Exercises of the Missions. 

1. The missionaries should be so numerous* as to 
be able to surround the place by keeping themselves at 
a certain distance from one another, so that their voices 
do not mingle. 

2. They should leave the church in the evening at a 
later hour than usual, without lights, without the cruci 
fix, and unaccompanied. Each one goes alone and 
secretly to the place that is designated; then at the 
signal given by a stroke of the large bell all begin the 
exhortation at the same time, and they also finish it at 
a second stroke. 

3. This exhortation, as to its parts, is similar to the 
evening exhortation that has been described above, but 
with this difference: the INTRODUCTION is shorter, and 
it is made ex abrtipto (abruptly) by beginning with the 
proposition itself, the object of which will be, for ex 
ample, the proximate abandonment on the part of God, 
or the ingratitude of those that close their ears to his 
voice, or justice which he exercises toward those that 
despise his mercy. To the introduction is joined the 
AMPLIFICATION with the reflection; then comes the MORAL 
APPLICATION; but each of these parts should be very 
short, so also the invitation to penance, which shall be 
without the exposition of motives, without effective 
words, and without any announcement of powers or 
faculties, etc.; hence the simultaneous exhortation is in 
substance composed only of three parts; namely: The 
introduction, with a short amplification and reflection, 
the Moral Application with the invitation to penance, 
and the terrible Sentence. 

* We should know that St. Alphonsus, wishing to produce by his 
labors solid and durable fruits, used the means suitable for this end: he 
employed in each mission a number of evangelical laborers proportion 
ate to the population and to the difficulties of the place; there were 
often twenty of them, and sometimes more, and the exercises lasted at 
least two or three weeks. (Tannoia and Villecourt, 1. 2, ch. 52.) ED. 

Chap. L Exhortations. /. 113 

i. INTRODUCTION. Do you then, O sinner! really wish 
to damn yourself? Do you wish God to punish and 
abandon you ? A few days ago the mission began, and 
you do not even wish to come to the church. Instead 
of punishing you, God has sent you the holy mission, 
during which he does not cease to call you night and 
day, at every hour, in every place, in the church, in the 
public places, at your very dwellings ! What greater 
mercy could God have shown you ? And you have be 
come more and more deaf to his voice, you have become 
more and more obstinate! Continue, O ungrateful man! 
continue to despise the invitations and the graces which 
the Lord offers to you; but you must know that the 
justice of God is at hand: soon you will be the victim 
of an unhappy death. The demons of hell demand of 
God vengeance against you, and God can no longer 
bear with you. Unfortunate man! I pity you; it would 
have been better had you not been born! Now, you 
laugh at the mission; but listen: a time will come 
when this grace, which God gives you to-day and by 
which you do not wish to profit, will be a cruel sword 
which will pierce your soul in hell forever. Then you 
will open your eyes to weep over and to curse your 
obstinacy; but then there will be no longer any remedy. 

2. MORAL APPLICATION. Cease then to be deaf, O un 
grateful sinner! cease to excite the anger of God. Come 
to church to-morrow; come to hear the rest of the ser 
mons; the end of the mission approaches. Come; Jesus 
Christ is waiting for you; make a good confession, but 
do so soon, soon, soon, before the mission is over. Lose 
no time; resist no longer God, who is calling you. 

3. SENTENCE. If you do not accept my invitation, I 
announce to you this evening a great chastisement 
which God will send you, and I inform you that this 


1 1 4 Exercises of the Missions. 

mission which God has sent you to save you, will serve, 
if you neglect it, to make God abandon you, and make 
you weep in hell with greater grief; without any hope, 
then, of ever being able to remedy your eternal loss. 


The Exhortation given during the Day. 

We have already said in the beginning that the ex 
hortation given during the day has for its object to col 
lect the inhabitants and to lead them from the public 
places and their places of work to the church; the aim 
of the moral application should therefore be to induce 
the hearers to come to the church, in order to hear the 
sermon that is about to be preached. 

This exhortation is composed of the same parts as 
the evening exhortation, but with the following differ 

1. It should be longer; may last a quarter of an hour; 
the arguments may be more extended, and a few two 
or three short Latin sentences may be added; there 
may also be related an example, which however should 
have reference to the proposition of the exhortation. 

2. The form of this exhortation should also be simple 
and popular, but less terrible and less vehement. 

3. It is not necessary always to begin with a hymn, 
especially when the people are already disposed to listen. 

4. At the end of this exhortation, especially during 
the first days of the mission we may add the act of 
contrition, but in a few words. 

5. Instead of the terrible Sentence, we finish by a 
special motive, to induce the people to come to the 


i. INTRODUCTION. My Brethren, have you ever heard 
of the following incident: A king having been offended 

Chap. I. Exhortations. //. 115 

by one of his subjects, justly condemned him to death, 
but before the execution of the sentence this good 
prince charged one of his ministers to tell the con 
demned man that if he repented and asked the king s 
pardon he should obtain forgiveness ? Similar traits 
are not seen between the princes of the earth and their 
subjects; but this is what has taken place between God 
and you. You are condemned to hell on account of the 
offences that you have committed against God; but the 
Lord, instead of treating you according to justice, has 
sent us to you through this mission. For Christ we are 
ambassadors. 1 We are ambassadors of God, but ambas 
sadors of peace and of pardon. 

2. AMPLIFICATION. We therefore announce to you on 
behalf of Jesus Christ, that he is disposed to pardon 
you, if you repent of having offended him, and if you 
promise him that you will amend your lives. Well, 
what say you? What answer do you give? Dear 
Brethren, hear well that about which there is question: 
the mission is a great mercy of God for those that wish 
to profit by it; but for the obstinate, it will only serve 
to attract sooner the abandonment and the chastisements 
of the Lord. Our Lord wept at the sight of Jerusalem: 
Seeing the city he wept over it? And why ? Because he 
saw that this ungrateful city did not wish to profit by 
the merciful visit that he made to it: Because Thou hast 
not known the time of Thy visitation? It is for this reason 
that he announces to you with tears in his eyes the 
chastisement that he has reserved for you. 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. Ye inhabitants of N., Jesus 
Christ has come to-day to visit you also by this holy 
mission in order to show you mercy. Let him who de 
spises this visit of our Lord tremble, and let him expect 

1 " Pro Christo legatione fungimur." 2 Cor. v. 20. 

2 " Videns civitatem, flevit super illam." Luke, xix. 41. 

3 " Eo quod non cognoveris tempus visitationis tuae." Ibid. 44. 

1 1 6 Exercises of the Missions. 

to receive soon an exemplary punishment. You must, 
therefore, my dear Brethren, return without delay to 
God, now that God calls you: the Lord calls you; but 
he will not call you always; and when he calls anyone 
he wishes to be obeyed without delay. If you, there 
fore, hear to-day his voice, do not harden your hearts: 
To-day if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts. 
Let us suppose that the condemned man mentioned 
above, to whom the King made an offer of pardon on 
condition that he would immediately repent of his 
crime, would have answered that he would think over 
the matter, and that afterwards he would speak about 
it: tell me, would not the King have ordered the sen 
tence to be executed immediately ? Indeed, this is pre 
cisely what he should expect who is not converted at 
once when God calls him. 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT. You see, my Brethren, that the 
mission has come; to-day it begins. Jes-us Christ calls 
you at this moment, and says to you: Turn ye to Me, 
. . . and I will turn to you? Sinners, you have teft me 
by offending me; but return to me, and I will receive 
you into my arms. What more can you ask of so good 
a God? Ah! no; let no one among you be so ungrate 
ful as to add to the injuries already done to God the in 
jury of despising the pardon that God offers him to 

5. ACT OF CONTRITION. Come, let us cast ourselves at 
the feet of Jesus Christ; let each one of you say to him: 
O Lord! I thank Thee for having waited forme till the 
present day, and for not having sent me to hell. I re 
pent. ... In future I will amend my life, etc. 


CHURCH. Now let all come to the church. Jesus 

1 " Hodie si vocem ejus audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra." 
Ps. xciv. 8. 

a " Convertimini ad me, . . . et convertar ad vos." Zach. i. 3, 

Chap. L Exhortations. ///. 1 1 7 

Christ says that his sheep hear his voice: My sheep hear 
My voice. 1 At this moment one may see who are the 
sheep of Jesus Christ, who are those that follow Jesus 
Christ, etc. 

Exhortation of the Discipline.* 

The exhortation of the discipline should be still 
shorter than the evening exhortation: it should be con 
ceived in terms that produce compunction rather than 
terror, and pronounced in a voice that expresses grief, 
since its only aim is to induce the hearers to repent of 
their faults, and to give themselves up to penance at 
that very moment. 

This exhortation has three parts: the Reflection, the 
Moral Application, and the Conclusion. In the REFLEC 
TION some important proposition of the sermon, which 
has preceded, is expounded; in the MORAL APPLICATION 
the necessity of penance is shown; in the CONCLUSION 
the hearers are induced to practise penance. 

1 " Oves meae vocem meam audiunt." John, x. 27. 

* Two or three days after the beginning of the mission St. Alphonsus 
replaced the evening exhortations by another exercise : at the end of 
the great sermon in the evening the women left the church and only 
the men remained, who, the lights having been extinguished, took the 
discipline in common. All the missionaries had to be present; one of 
them began by summing up the motives of the sermon that had just 
been preached, and tried to inspire his hearers with sentiments of com 
punction so as to dispose them for this act of penance. Then the men 
could be seen weeping on account of their sins, and trying to satisfy the 
justice of God. (Tannoia and Villecourt, 1. 2, ch. 52. See the Method 
of giving Missions in this treatise.) ED. 

1 1 8 Exercises of the Missions. 


First Example. 

1. REFLECTION. Have you heard, my dear Brethren, 
what chastisement you have deserved by your sins ? 
You have deserved that God should abandon you and 
should no more pardon you. But no: the Lord is still 
waiting for you; he calls you; his arms are open to 
receive you, if you wish to return to him. O my 
Brethren ! do no longer offend this God, who has shown 
so much kindness to you; change your conduct; or do 
you wish that he should really abandon you ? 

2. MORAL APPLICATION. Hasten, O sinners, hasten to 
give yourselves to God. Tell him that in future you 
will no more offend him; and as to the past, beg him to 
pardon you the great offence that you have given him. 

3. CONCLUSION. Weep, then, do penance, chastise 
your bodies, by which you have displeased God. Now 
raise your hand, raise your voice, and ask pardon: Par 
don me, O Lord ! mercy; I repent of having offended 
Thee; mercy ! 

Here the missionary intones at once the Miserere, 
which is continued by the ecclesiastics who are present. 
About the middle of the psalm, at the verse that best 
suits his subject, he interrupts it by a stroke of the bell, 
and makes a second exhortation, but still shorter, by 
following the same rule as above; for example: 

1. Cast me not away from Thy face. David, while 
thinking of the sins which he committed against God, 
trembled and said: Cast me not away from Thy face: O 
Lord ! do Thou not reject me, as I have deserved. 

2. And you, my dear Brethren, what say you ? How 
many times have you not driven God from your hearts? 
You would deserve that at this moment God should 
drive you from this church. 

Chap. I. Exhortations. ///. 119 

3. But no; see what he says this evening to each one 
of you: My son, ask my pardon, and I will pardon you. 
Raise again your voice and say: Pardon, O Lord ! 

We must take care that this exercise should always 
be concluded with fervor. If the fervor of the partici 
pants grows weak, the discipline should be abridged by 
intoning the Gloria Patri. We afterwards say to the 
people: Now respond to the hymn while saying with 

" I have offended Thee, my God, 

Alas ! my dearest Lord ; 
Thou Sea of Goodness Infinite, 

And Fount of Love adored. 
Ungratefully, without a cause, 

I have offended Thee, 
Who on the cross to give me life 
Didst die through love for me. 
But I am sorry, O my God ! 

In mercy, Lord, forgive; 
I never will offend Thee more, 

No, never, while I live. 
May every moment of my life 

Be spent in bitter tears, 
To mourn my past ingratitude, 
The sins of former years !" 

After the hymn the Hail Mary is recited three times 
by the people, with the face on the floor; and then we 
conclude by saying: " May the most Blessed Sacrament 
be praised and thanked ! Blessed be the holy, immacu 
late, and most pure Conception of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary !" 

At the end of the exercise all those that wish to go to 
confession are invited to proceed to the place destined 
for this purpose. It must be here remarked that the 
missionaries, especially those that are. charged with the 
duty of giving instructions and of preaching, should al- 

1 20 Exercises of the Missions. 

ways urge the people, and particularly the men, to come 
to confession very soon, by telling them that if they wait 
till the great crowds come to confession, it may not be 
possible to satisfy them. This advice should be often 
repeated with much force from the very beginning; for 
otherwise the missionaries will remain unoccupied for 
several days, and will afterwards be overwhelmed by 
crowds, and this will cause confusion and embarrassment. 

Second Example. 


1. REFLECTION. Have you understood, my Brethren: 
A day will come when you must die; and then the 
world coming to an end for you, you will find yourself 
extended on your bed and abandoned by all men. 

2. MORAL APPLICATION. Then there will be no more 
time to make peace with God: your conscience being 
confused, God angered, your head weakened, your 
heart hardened such will be your state; help yourself 
then if you can. Now, sinners, it is time to regulate 
your accounts and become reconciled with God; for 
this end he has .waited for you up to the present time; 
he has opened his arms to receive you. Know that if 
to-day you weep over your past offences, God will for 
give all your sins. 

3. CONCLUSION. Weep, then, do penance, chastise 
your bodies. 

Third Example. 


i. REFLECTION. A day will come, my Brethren, when 
you will appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ to 
render an account of your whole life. Tell me: if Jesus 
Christ wished to judge you this very evening, what 
sentence would he pronounce against you? 

Chap. L Exhortations. ///. 121 

2. MORAL APPLICATION. Pay attention to what I say: 
On that day there will be no more mercy; then Jesus 
Christ will be the just Judge, while now he is a Father, 
and he opens his arms to receive and to pardon you. 

3. CONCLUSION. Hasten then to weep, etc. 

Fourth Example. 


1. REFLECTION. My dear Brethren, have you heard 
this evening the sermon on hell ? Have you reflected 
where you should be now on account of your sins ? 
You should now find yourselves in this abyss of fire, in 
profound darkness, in the midst of terrible torments. 
Do you not thank God that you still find yourselves in 
this church, with the certain hope of obtaining pardon 
if you only wish it? Ah! if one that is damned were 
present here this evening, and could repent of his sins, 
and obtain grace, what penance would he not perform 
in order to be released from hell ! 

2. MORAL APPLICATION. And you who have so many 
times deserved hell, more than many others who are 
now condemned for fewer and less grave sins than 
yours, what do you do? Do you not weep? do you not 
ask pardon of God ? 

3. CONCLUSION. Ah ! do not delay to weep, etc. 


The exercise of the discipline ordinarily continues 
every evening till the evening before the day on which 
the Papal blessing is given; but on the last evening, 
instead of the discipline, it is customary to trail the 
tongue on the ground, an exercise very useful for those 
that have the habit of blaspheming and of uttering 
immodest language. This is done in the following 

After the women have left the church, and the door 

1 2 2 Exercises of the Missions. 

has been locked, the chairs and benches are removed, 
and the men are assembled at the main entrance of the 
church. Then the Father who is to give the exhorta 
tion places himself opposite to the people on an ele 
vated place, with the crucifix held by a cleric who is 
between two others carrying lighted candles; at the 
same time all the other missionaries keep the multitude 
together in front of the crucifix, and hold back the 
children, if any have moved forward. Immediately 
after this the exhortation is given; and at the end, 
when the Father exhorts all to trail the tongue on the 
ground, the other missionaries begin by setting the 
example; but afterwards, as soon as they see the men 
prostrating themselves with the face on the ground, 
they rise, place themselves in the church at a distance 
from one another, and all together, in a loud voice, con 
tinue to animate the people to perform this penance 
with compunction. 

The end of this exhortation is no other than to inspire 
people with horror of the sins of the tongue. As to the 
form, it may be the following; but the discourse may 
be more extended, as I give here only an idea of what 
is to be done. 


O goodness of God, how great art thou! O justice 
of God, how terrible art thou! O cursed sin, how cruel 
art thou! Raise your eyes, my Brethren; see the im 
age of the man hanging on the cross, after having 
been scourged, crowned with thorns, and all covered 
with wounds from head to foot. Could you tell me who 
is this man, and what he has done? It is the august 
Son of God, innocent and holy. Why did his eternal 
Father condemn him to so painful a death ? Hear what 
his Father answers: For the wickedness of My people have 

Chap. L Exhortations. ///. 123 

I struck him. It was for the crimes of my people that I 
have struck him. Consider then the humiliation and the 
pain inflicted by your sins upon this innocent Lamb: it 
was because of your impurities that his flesh was torn; 
it was because of your bad thoughts that he was crowned 
with thorns; his feet and his hands were nailed to the 
cross because of your sinful steps and impure touches; 
his heart was pierced on account of your obstinacy. 
But, O my Jesus! be consoled; for these poor sinners 
are no longer obstinate; Thou already knowest that 
during these days of the mission they have tried to re 
pair the evil that they have done: Thy painful wounds 
they have tried to heal by the scourges that they in 
flicted upon themselves; the spittle that covered Thy 
eyes they have tried to wipe off by tears; the pain of 
Thy feet pierced with nails they have tried to alleviate 
by coming to the church; the wounds made by the 
thorns they have tried to lessen by holy resolutions. Yes 
my Brethren, all this is true; but this divine mouth of 
Jesus Christ I see still tormented by the gall of your 
blasphemies, of your lies, of your immodest language. 
Well, this evening you should sweeten all the bitter 
ness that you have caused our Lord in the past. And 
what must you do to accomplish this ? At first, you 
should weep over the displeasure that you have given 
to so good a God, who died for you; and then you 
should chastise yourselves by trailing a little on the 
ground that tongue that has put so much gall into the 
mouth of Jesus Christ. Come, then, let us this evening 
offer him this consolation. My Fathers, be ye the first 
to give the example; and you, my Brethren, follow the 
priests. Weep, then, etc. 


i. Suffer, cursed tongue, for having dared to offend 
Jesus Christ. 

1 24 Exercises of the Missions. 

2. Think, my Brother, that your tongue should now 
be burning in hell, etc. 

3. Say from the bottom of your heart: O my Jesus! 
accept this penance, however small, and pardon me all 
the sins that I have committed by my words. 

4. Most Holy Virgin Mary, my Mother, offer to God 
this mortification, and pray to him to pardon me. 

5. O my Brother! what joy this evening for the angels 
to see, etc. And what torment for the devils to see that 
God receives you this evening into his arms, etc. 

6. At the same time make an act of contrition and ask 
pardon, etc., O Lord, I am sorry, etc.; and then a firm 
resolution, etc., O Lord, I will rather die. Oh, I have 
given Thee enough gall, my sweet Jesus! If I should 
offend Thee again by my cursed tongue, let me rather 

7. Eternal Father, for the love of Jesus Christ, and by 
the merit of the gall which he tasted on the cross, par 
don me, etc. 

8. My dear Brother, if you were in hell, which you 
have deserved, what penance would you not do to be 
redeemed out of it? Well, this evening, on account of 
this mortification God will deliver you from the pains 
that you should suffer in hell, etc. 

The Exhortation of Peace. 

The exhortation of peace, which is delivered after the 
discipline, as distinguished from that which precedes 
the general Communion, according to Bari, is composed 
of six parts: i. Recapitulation; 2. Application; 3. Proof; 
4. Example; 5. Moral application; 6. Conclusion. 

1. A point of the sermon that has preceded is briefly 

2. It is applied to those that cherish hatred against 

Chap. I. Exhortations. IV. 125 

their neighbor by announcing to them the chastisement 
reserved for the revengeful. 

3. It is proved by some passage from holy Scripture 
or from the holy Fathers, and by reasons, showing how 
much he should fear divine vengeance who wishes to be 
revenged, and how, on the contrary, he should hope for 
pardon from God who forgives others. 

4. The proof is confirmed by an example given some 
what in detail. 

5. The moral application is then made. 

6. At the end the hearers are invited to become recon 
ciled with one another by forgiving one another the in 
juries that have been received. 

After the conclusion of the discourse, the Father still 
continues to urge those present to the forgiveness of in 
juries, and this by various motives that are found at the 
end of the following example. 

It should be explained that it is the business, not of 
him who has given offence, but of him who has received 
it, and who wishes to forgive, to come to tell the mis 
sionary in secret what is that offence. If only the one 
that gave offence presents himself, he should be dis 
missed with a few kind words, and should not be 
allowed to mention the fact nor the person who has 
been offended. When the person offended presents 
himself, if the offence has been secret, care should be 
taken to have the reconciliation brought about in secret; 
but if it has been public, he who is the author of it is 
called, provided it is not an ecclesiastic, so that both 
may embrace each other at the foot of the crucifix; and 
if the author of the offence is not present, he is to be re 
placed by one of his near relatives. It must, however, 
be observed, that if the hatred proceeds from a cause 
concerning honor, it suffices to say to the person of 
fended that he should pardon the offence in his heart, 

126 Exercises of the Missions. 

and this need not be followed by an embrace, which 
might create scandal and some sinful affection. 


1. RECAPITULATION. You have heard, my dear Breth 
ren, the account which you have inevitably to render to 
Jesus Christ, and the terrible sentence which the divine 
Judge will pronounce against sinners. 

2. APPLICATION. Job, who was so holy a man, think 
ing of God s judgments, cried out: For what shall I 
do when God shall rise to judge ? and when he shall ex 
amine, what shall I answer him ? 1 And you, my Brethren, 
what will you answer God when he asks you an account 
of your life? Tell me, what will you answer him, you 
especially who bear hatred towards your neighbor, and 
who, after having heard the sermon of this evening, 
still think of revenging yourselves? 

3. PROOF. Vengeance belongs to God only; he is the 
just avenger of sins, and for this reason he is called the 
God of revenge? And you, miserable worm of the earth, 
you wish to act as if you were God ? But think of the 
chastisement with which St. James menaces those that 
refuse to forgive others: he will be judged without 
mercy: For judgment without mercy to him that hath not 
done mercy? Now you do not wish to forgive your 
neighbor the offence that he has given you: well, when 
on the day of judgment you wish to obtain pardon from 
Jesus Christ, it will with justice be refused to you. You 
yourselves, then, according to St. Augustine, 4 will not 

1 "Quid enim faciam, cum surrexerit ad judicandum Deus? et cum 
qusesierit, quid respondebo illi?" Job, xxxi. 14. 

2 " Deus ultionum." Ps. xciii. i. 

3 " Judicium enim sine misericord ia illi qui non fecit misericordiam." 
James, ii. 13. 

4 " Nescio qua fronte indulgentiam peccatorum obtinere poterit, qui 
Deo, praecipienti inimicis suis veniam dare, non acquiescit." Serm. 
273, & # a &< 

Chap. I. Exhortations. IV. 127 

dare to ask mercy of God, who himself has given you 
the command to forgive your neighbor. Now you 
wish to take revenge upon your neighbor: then Jesus 
Christ will also take revenge upon you. Our Lord has 
said: Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time. 
Should you not have committed other offences against 
God, you should think it no little injury that you heap 
upon him this evening by wishing to persist in hating 
your neighbor, when Jesus Christ exhorts you to par 
don him for the love of him, when he commands you to 
do so, and when he seems even to beg you to do so! 

4. EXAMPLE. It is related that St. John Gualbertus, 
whose relative had been assassinated, met one day the 
murderer, who asked his pardon for the love of Jesus 
Christ. On hearing this name the saint pardoned him. 
Having afterwards entered the church, he saw the im 
age of Jesus crucified bend its head and salute him as if 
to thank him for having pardoned the murderer for the 
love of his Saviour. 

Instead of this incident, the following may be related: 
A powerful man had seven enemies, and wished to take 
revenge on all seven. St. Catharine of Siena begged 
him to pardon at least one of them for the love of Jesus 
Christ. He did so, and while doing so he felt such in 
terior consolation that he at once called upon St. Cath 
arine to tell her that for the love of Jesus Christ he 
pardoned all his enemies. 

5. MORAL APPLICATION. You see then how our Lord 
presses to his heart all those who for the love of him 
pardon the injuries that have been heaped upon them. 
Hence, my dear Brethren, if you wish also to be em 
braced by Jesus Christ, you must pardon your neighbor 
and embrace him who has offended you. Our Lord 

" Mea est ultio, et ego retribuam in tempore," .Deut. xxxii. 35. 

128 Exercises of the Missions. 

says: Forgive and you shall be forgiven. 1 * Know, then, if 
this evening, to please God, you forget to pardon the 
offences that you have received, God will forgive the 
offences that you have committed against him, and he 
will embrace you as his children. 

6. Welt then, my dear Brethren, if your neighbor has 
offended you, come first to mention this in secret to the 
missionary, and then become reconciled with one another 
at the foot of the crucifix. Oh, happy he that is the 
first this evening to perform this noble deed and to set 
the good example! Come then, Jesus Christ is waiting 
for you, etc. 

This exhortation is here given in an abridged form, 
merely to give a succinct idea of it; he that has to give 
it, should take care to develop it in any way that he 
thinks fit. We think it useful to indicate here, in con 
clusion, various motives, which may be given for the 
purpose of inducing those who have been offended to 
grant full pardon; for example: 

1. Come, give to-day this satisfaction to Jesus Christ, 
come to pardon, etc.; I do not ask this on my account, 
but for the love of Jesus crucified, who, if you pardon 
others, will pardon you; and if, on the contrary, you re 
fuse to pardon others, do not ask his pardon; for he 
will withdraw from you, and on the day of judgment, 

2. You see that at this moment the devil is occupied 
in tempting you, so as to prevent you from pardoning 
your neighbor; he says to you that it would be a shame 
for you to pardon others. Answer him by asking 
whether it was a shame for Jesus crucified to pardon his 
executioners. Ah! do not listen to the devil; listen to 

1 "Dimittite, et dimittemini." L^lkc, vi. 37. 

* In the Pater noster, the divine Master commands us to ask God to 
pardon us only as we pardon others. ED, 

Chap. L Exhortations. IV. 129 

Jesus Christ, who says to you this evening: If you wish 
me to make peace with you this evening, make, first, 
peace with your neighbor. 

3. Come, why are you waiting ? Do violence to your 
selves: do not allow yourselves to be conquered by the 
devil. Give this pleasure to Jesus Christ and to the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, who now have their eyes upon 
you to see what you are going to do. 

4. Oh, what consolation will you feel after this beauti 
ful act! Hasten, come, etc. 

5. See, and tremble: if you do not forgive your neigh 
bor this evening, God will abandon you, and you will 
be damned. 

6. Pay attention: see who is coming; do not allow 
him to pass by. Come to Jesus Christ, the King of 
peace. Live Jesus, and may L the power of hell burst 
with anger! Courage! etc. 

(As for the example of another exhortation to peace, 
given to the people before General Communion, see 
farther on, in Chapter IV.) 

1 30 Exercises of the Missions. 




THE recitation of the Rosary may be preceded by an 
introduction in which is related some example of the 
protection which the Blessed Virgin grants to those 
that practise this devotion. But it must be observed 
that this introduction should be given only when there 
is time for it, and when it becomes necessary in order 
to keep the people occupied; this is, however, rarely the 
case. Ordinarily, in winter, and in those places where 
the instruction is given during the day, according as 
it is commonly practised, there is little time for it. It 
is, therefore, better to omit the introduction, and to re 
cite the Rosary immediately, as it greatly contributes 
to the success of the mission. It will then be well to 
begin by giving out the mysteries on which the medita 
tion is to be made, by joining to them some short re 
flection and a short moral, as will be said farther on. 
If afterwards time permits, the narration may be given 
at the end of the Rosary; we give here the rules for it. 

The narration contains three parts: The Introduction, 
the Fact, and the Moral Application, 

i. As to the INTRODUCTION, the proposition which is 
its subject is drawn from the very fact that one wishes 
to relate by passing from a general proposition to the 
particular proposition of this fact. If there is question, 
for instance, of the help given by the Blessed Virgin to 
one of her pious clients at the hour of death, one may 

Chap. II. The Rosary. 1 3 1 

say: " At all times, under all circumstances, Mary, our 
good Mother, comes to the assistance of her clients; but 
it is, above all, at the hour of death that they stand in 
the greatest need of her protection, etc." 

2. As to the FACT, only that is given which has con 
nection with the proposition without speaking of the 
circumstances that are foreign to it, and without speak 
ing parenthetically. It will always be well to mention 
the name of the author who relates the fact, as well as 
the circumstances of time and place. 

3. As to the MORAL APPLICATION, we begin by draw 
ing the conclusion from the fact related, according to 
the particular proposition which precedes it; for exam 
ple: "You see, my dear Brethren, how the recitation of 
the Rosary is useful to obtain the protection of Mary 
at the moment of death." Then comes the moral appli 
cation: " Hence, in future, do not omit to recite it every 
day with devotion and with confidence. Let us then 
say it together this evening: Deus, in adjutorium, etc."* 


i. INTRODUCTION. He that has a true devotion to 
Mary may be called happy even in this life, and may be 
sure of paradise, according to the words of the Gospel: 
He that shall find Me, shall find life, and shall have salva- 

* According to Tannoia and Villecourt, 1. 2, ch. 52, this was the 
practice followed by St. Alphonsus in his missions: Before the evening 
sermon, when the people were assembled in the church, a part of the 
Rosary was recited, not in Latin according to the Italian custom, but 
in the vernacular, in order that the people might understand what they 
said, and that, accustoming themselves to recite the Rosary in this 
way, they might subsequently continue this practice. The missionary 
took care to explain how pleasing it is to the Blessed Virgin, and to 
point out to the people the indulgences that were attached to it; espe 
cially did he recommend the recitation of the Rosary (or five decades) 
every evening, in common, with their families. ED. 

1 3 2 Exercises of the Missions. 

tionfrom the Lord. But who is he that finds Mary ? It 
is he who loves her, and who honors her by special de 
votions. Now among all the devotions I know none 
that is more pleasing to the Mother of God than the 
Rosary. Oh, what a beautiful hope of salvation have 
those who recite every day the Rosary with piety and 
perseverance ! The books are full of examples of souls 
saved by this means. Hear what the devils themselves, 
forced by a command from St. Dominic, have said in 
praise of the Rosary. 

2. FACT. Father Pacciucchelli * relates that one day 
while St. Dominic was preaching about the devotion o f 
the Rosary, a heretic was brought in who, for having 
publicly spoken ill of the Rosary, had been by a just 
judgment of God become possessed of devils; he had 
been bound, and he uttered horrible cries. Then the 
saint commanded the devils, in the name of Mary, to 
answer all the questions that he would address to them. 
At first he asked them why they had taken possession 
of this sinner, and how many they were. They answered 
that it was on account of the irreverence committed 
against Mary, and that they numbered fifteen thousand, 
on account of the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. Then 
the saint asked them whether what he had preached on 
the Rosary was true. The evil spirits then began to 
howl and to curse the moment in which they had 
entered this body, since they now found themselves 
forced to confess what would do them so much injury. 
"Hear, O Christians!" they said; " all that our enemy 
has said of Mary and of the Rosary is true." They 
added that they had no power against the servants of 
Mary, and that many sinners at death by invoking Mary, 
notwithstanding their unworthiness, succeeded in saving 

"Qui me invenerit, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino." 
Prov. viii. 35. 

8 Super Angel. Salut. exc. 3, n. 10. 

Chap. II. The Rosary. 133 

their souls. They concluded with these words: "We 
are compelled to make known that he who perseveres 
in devotion to Mary and to the Rosary will not be 
damned; for Mary will secure for him eternal salva 
tion." Then St. Dominic told the people to recite the 
Rosary. At each Ave Maria there departed from the 
unhappy man a multitude of devils like burning coals, 
so that at the end of the recitation of the Rosary he 
was entirely delivered from these infernal spirits. Such 
a prodigy brought back many heretics to the true faith, 
and filled every one with an ardent devotion to the 

3. MORAL APPLICATION. You see, my dear Brethren, 
what a beautiful hope we have of being saved by the 
protection of Mary when we honor her by devotion to 
the Rosary. Do not, therefore, in future, fail to recite 
it every day with much affection and confidence; if any 
one has neglected this practice in the past, let him 
begin it this evening, and never discontinue it. Let us, 
then, begin and recite the Rosary during these days of 
the mission, so that the Blessed Virgin may obtain for 
all the inhabitants of this place the grace of true con 
version. Dcus, in adjutorium, etc. 

The Mysteries. 

After the exposition of the mystery come the Consid 
eration, the Moral Application, and the Prayer; for 


In the ist, the ANNUNCIATION, we contemplate how 
the Blessed Virgin was informed by the archangel 
Gabriel that she should conceive and bring forth our 
Lord Jesus Christ. (CONSIDERATION): Consider here, 
my dear Brethren, the love of our God: he could have 

1 34 Exercises of the Missions. 

saved us by sending an angel to redeem us; but he 
wished to come himself to die for our salvation, so that 
our hearts might not be divided, says St. Bernard: "In 
order that our hearts might not be divided, he wished 
to be our Creator and Redeemer," 1 etc. (MORAL AP 
PLICATION): However, where is the love, where is the 
gratitude, of men towards a God who has loved them 
so much? (PRAYER): Let us ask Mary, in this first 
decade of the Rosary, to obtain for us this holy love of 
God: O holy Mother of God ! so full always of love for 
this good Lord Jesus Christ, who became thy Son, that 
he might deliver us from hell, obtain for us the grace to 
love him with our whole heart, etc. 

In the 2d, the VISITATION, we contemplate how the 
E>lessed Virgin Mary, having learned that Elizabeth, her 
cousin, was with child, set out immediately to visit her, 
and remained with her three months. (Cons.) The 
visit of Mary was the source of grace to this whole 
family. (Mor. applic.) Happy the soul that is visited 
by Mary, etc. (Pr.) Let us pray, then, to our dear Lady, 
that she may deign, during this mission, often to visit 
our souls, so that they may be sanctified, etc. 

In the 3d, the BIRTH OF OUR LORD, we contemplate 
how, the time having arrived, the Blessed Virgin brought 
forth our Redeemer at midnight, in a stable, between 
two animals, and she laid him in a manger. (Cons.) 
When the time of her delivery arrived, Mary was at 
Bethlehem; but not being able to procure any lodging 
in the city, she was obliged to take shelter in a cave, 
which was used as a stable for cattle; and there she 
gave birth to the Son of God, etc. (Mor. applic.) Jesus 
wished to make his first appearance in this world in the 
form of a babe lying in a manger, in order to inspire 
sinners with greater confidence, etc. . . . Let no one, 

1 "isle corda dividetemus, volmt esse nobis Creator et Redemptor." 

Chap. IL The Rosary. 135 

then, entertain sentiments of distrust, etc. (Pr.) Let us 
beseech the Blessed Virgin to obtain for us true con 
fidence, etc. 

In the 4th, the PRESENTATION, we contemplate how, 
forty days after the birth of our Lord, that she might 
fulfil the precepts of legal purification, the Blessed Vir 
gin offered her divine Son in the Temple, and placed 
him in the arms of the aged Simeon. (Cons.) Mary had 
no need to be purified, because she was always free from 
every stain; but in order to obey the law, and through 
humility,- she went to be purified, and to appear sullied 
like other women. (Mor. applic.) Since, then, the Mother 
of God, who was so pure, was not ashamed to appear as 
it" she needed to be purified, how shall you ever be 
ashamed to confess your sins during this holy mission? 
(Pr.) Pray to the Blessed Virgin to help you to over 
come every repugnance to confess your sins, etc. 

we contemplate how Mary, having lost her Son, and hav 
ing sought for him during three days, found him again 
disputing in the midst of the Doctors, when he was 
twelve years of age. (Cons.) The Blessed Virgin and 
St. Joseph, having gone to Jerusalem to visit the Temple, 
took with them the little child Jesus; but at the return 
they lost him. For three days, then, they sought after 
him with many sighs and tears, and found him at last in 
the Temple. (Mor. applic.) The Blessed Virgin never 
lost the grace of her divine Son; she was only deprived 
of his sensible presence; and, nevertheless, she sought 
after him with tears. Oh, how much greater reason has 
the sinner to search with tears for Jesus Christ, when he 
has lost his grace ! -Whoever seeks for him in this way 
will surely find him. (Pr.) Let us pray to the Blessed 
Virgin to obtain for us a true sorrow for our sins, etc. 

1 36 Exercises of the Missions. 


In the ist, the AGONY IN THE GARDEN, we contemplate 
how Jesus Christ, while praying in the Garden of Olives, 
sweat drops of blood. (Cons.) When our Saviour 
reached the Garden of Olives, he was seized with so 
great a sadness that he said it was sufficient to take 
away his life: My soul is sorrowful even unto death. (Mor. 
applic.) What was it, then, that afflicted the heart of 
Jesus so much, that made him sweat drops of blood? 
It was the sight of our sins that caused him this cruel 
agony. Let us also unite our sorrow to that of Jesus 
Christ (Pr.) Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin to ob 
tain for us this sorrow. 

In the 2d, the SCOURGING, we contemplate how cruelly 
Jesus Christ was scourged in the house of Pilate, where, 
according to a revelation made to St. Bridget, he received 
six thousand six hundred and sixty-six blows. (Cons.) 
This scourging of Jesus Christ was so cruel that his 
body became like a leper s, that is, one continual wound 
from head to foot, according to the prophecy of Isaias : 
And we have thought him as it were a leper. (Mor. applic.) 
Holy writers teach that our Saviour was pleased to suffer 
this great punishment especially to satisfy for the sins 
committed against chastity. Sinners, have you heard 
this? Your impurities are the scourges that made our 
Saviour suffer; ah ! do no longer scourge him, etc. 
(Pr.) Pray to the Blessed Virgin to deliver you from 
this vice, which makes hell so full, and in temptations 
invoke Mary, etc. 

In the 3d, the CROWNING WITH THORNS, we contem 
plate how Jesus Christ was crowned with thorns and 
treated like a mock king. (Cons.) After having been 
scourged, he was made to sit upon a stone; a reed was 
put into his hand to represent a sceptre, a rag upon his 
shoulders for a royal mantle, and on his head, in place 

Chap. II. The Rosary. 137 

of a crown, a wreath of thorns, which they struck with 
a cane to make them penetrate. Then the soldiers in 
sulted him, saying: "Hail, King of the Jews!" And 
they buffeted him. (Mor. applic.) Sinners do the same: 
for they confess; but scarcely risen from the feet of their 
confessor, they leave the church to give Jesus Christ 
new blows on the face. (Pr.) Let us beseech the Blessed 
Virgin to obtain for us the grace to die rather than ever 
offend God any more, etc. 

In the 4th, the CARRYING OF THE CROSS, we contem 
plate how Jesus Christ, having been condemned to 
death by Pilate, was made to bear the cross upon his 
shoulders in order to increase his humiliation and his 
pain. (Cons.) With great affection Jesus embraced this 
cross, wishing by this means to satisfy for our sins. 
(Mor. applic.) It is therefore just that we, in our turn, 
to satisfy for the many offences which we have given 
him, should embrace the crosses that God sends us, etc. 
(Pr.) Let us pray to Mary to obtain for us resignation 
and patience in all our tribulations, etc. 

In the 5th, the CRUCIFIXION, we contemplate how Jesus 
Christ, having arrived at Calvary, was stripped, then 
nailed to the cross, where he died for love of us, in the 
presence of his afflicted Mother. (Cons.) Consider what 
a bitter death our Saviour suffered to purchase our 
love. (Mor. applic.) Let us always keep by us some 
beautiful image of Jesus crucified, and often, while look 
ing at it, let us say1*I love Thee, my Jesus, because Thou 
hast died for me. (Pr.) Let us ask the Mother of sorrows 
to obtain for us the grace to think often of the dying love 
of Jesus Christ, which he bore to us by dying for us. 


In the ist, the RESURRECTION, we contemplate how, 
the third day after his death, Jesus Christ rose again 
triumphant and glorious, to die no more. (Cons.) Let 

1 3 8 Exercises of the Missions. 

us consider the glory of our Redeemer when he arose 
from the sepulchre, after having vanquished Satan, and 
delivered the human race from bondage. (Mor, applic.) 
How great is the folly of the sinner who, having been 
once delivered from the tyranny of the devil, consents 
to become again his slave for some wretched gain or 
some miserable pleasure of this world! (Pr.) Let us 
pray to the Blessed Virgin to unite us by love so closely 
to Jesus Christ that we may never again by mortal sin 
become the slaves of Lucifer. 

In the 2d, the ASCENSION, we contemplate how Jesus 
Christ, forty days after his resurrection, ascended into 
heaven in triumph, surrounded by wonderful glory, in 
the sight of his most holy Mother and of his disciples. 
(Cons.) Before Jesus Christ died for us, Paradise was 
closed against us; but by his death, Jesus has opened it 
for all those that love him. (Mor. applic.) Ah, what a 
pity that, after our Saviour has suffered so much to 
obtain Paradise, this happy kingdom, in which, etc.; 
and then so many foolish sinners should renounce it 
and give themselves up to hell for a worthless pleasure, 
for a mere nothing ! (Pr.) Let us beseech Mary to 
obtain for us the light to see clearly how miserable are 
the goods of this world, and how great the delights that 
God offers in the world to come to those that love him. 

In the 3d, the MISSION OF THE HOLY GHOST, we con 
template how Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of 
his Father, sent down the Holy Ghost to the chamber 
where the apostles with the Virgin Mary were assem 
bled. (Cons.) Before receiving the Holy Ghost, the 
apostles were so feeble, so cold, in the love of God, that, 
at the time of the Passion of our Lord, one betrayed 
him, another denied him, and all abandoned him; but as 
soon as they had all received the Holy Ghost, they were 
so much inflamed with love that they gave up their lives 
generously for Jesus Christ. (Mor. applic.) St. Augus- 

Chap. 77. The Rosary. 139 

tine says : He u ho loves, does not labor. He who loves 
God feels no affliction under crosses, but rather rejoices, 
etc (Pr.) Let us ask of Mary to obtain for us from the 
Holy Ghost the gift of divine love; for then all the 
crosses of this life will seem sweet to us. 

contemplate how Mary, twelve years after the resurrec 
tion of Jesus Christ, departed this life, and was carried 
up by angels to heaven. (Cons.) The death of Mary 
was full of peace and consolation, because her life had 
been all holy, etc. (Mor. applic.) Our death will not be 
like hers, for our sins will then be a subject of alarm. 
But hear: for as to him who renounces a bad life and 
consecrates himself to the service of Mary, this good 
Mother will not fail to comfort him in that last moment, 
and obtain for him the grace of dying consoled, as she 
has done to so many of her faithful servants. (Pr.) Let 
us place ourselves, then, under her protection, with the 
firm purpose to amend our lives; and let us always ask 
her to assist us in the hour of death, etc. 

we consider how Mary was crowned by her divine Son, 
and we contemplate at the same time the glory of all 
the saints. (Cons.) When Mary was crowned in heaven 
by the hand of God, she was also appointed to be our 
advocate; for this reason, Blessed Amadeus says that 
she prays for us incessantly. (Mor. applic.) It is true 
that Mary prays for all men, but she especially prays for 
those that often and confidently have recourse to her 
intercession. (Pr.) Let us beseech her always to pray 
for us, by saying with the Church: Holy Mary, Mother 
of God, pray for us ; and with St. Philip Neri : O Mary, 
Mother of God ! pray to Jesus for us. 

1 40 Exercises of the Missions. 



BEFORE the acts that are made to dispose the children 
for confession, we address to them an instruction which 
is composed of three parts: the Introduction, the Proof, 
and the Fact. 

1. To the INTRODUCTION is joined the Proposition, 
which has for its subject the injury that is done to God 
by sin, or the ingratitude of the sinner, or the mercy of 
God towards him who repents. It will be well to begin 
the introduction by a truth opposed to the proposition. 
For example: if one takes for the subject the injury done 
to God by sin, the introduction should at first show how 
God deserves to be honored; if it is the ingratitude of 
the sinner, one should speak of the great obligation of 
loving God for so many benefits, etc.; and if it is of the 
mercy of God, one should speak of the chastisements 
that he merits who offends God. 

2. Here follows the PROOF, giving reasons or authori 
ties, which should be few in number, expressed briefly 
and simply, according to the capacity of the children. 
A short moral is added to the proof. 

3. After this a FACT is selected, which should cor 
respond to the proposition, and be conducive towards 
exciting compunction so as to dispose the children -to 
make a good act of contrition. 

We pass, then, to the Acts. 

We begin by the acts of theological virtues; that is, 
Faith, Hope, and Charity. Care should be taken that 

Chap. 1 77. Preparing Children for Confession. 141 

these acts be preceded by their corresponding motives, 
namely: for the act of faith, that we should believe 
what the Church teaches, because God has revealed it 
to her; for the act of hope, that we should hope for 
paradise and the graces necessary to reach it, because 
we have the promise of God, who is all-powerful, merci 
ful, and faithful; for the act of charity, that we should 
love God, because he deserves to be loved by men by 
reason of his infinite goodness. I have said that these 
motives should precede the acts, and not follow them, as 
they are made to do by some; for the motive is called 
motive because it should move us to act. This is what 
should be observed in regard to the acts that are made 
at the end of each instruction. Besides, we should be 
careful that the acts preparatory for the confession of 
the children has special relation to confession that they 
are going to make, namely: to believe specially that in 
the sacrament of penance sins are pardoned, to hope 
especially for pardon through the merits of Jesus 
Christ, etc. 

We finish with the act of contrition, preceded by the 
motive, the reflection or reason that moves one to re 
pentance, and by the invitation through which one is 
urged to repent; for example: (MOTIVE): Jesus Christ 
has said: Him that cometh to Me, I will not cast out (John, 
v - 37)- (INVITATION): Ah, my children, you would de 
serve to be rejected to-day by Jesus Christ; but since he 
says to you that he will not reject you, hasten to cast 
yourselves at his feet, weep, repent, etc., and say to him: 
(ACT) My Jesus, it is true that I have offended Thee, 
but I love Thee with my whole heart; and because I 
love Thee, I repent, etc. It will also be good for the 
children, and for persons but little instructed, to make 
them conceive the act of contrition by asking them, for 
example: My children, do you not love with your whole 
heart this God who is so good? And because you love 

142 Exercises of t lie Missions. 

him, do you repent of having offended him ? It will be 
well to repeat these acts of contrition three times, by 
giving them different motives: the first motive should 
be drawn from the proposition ; at the second, the 
crucifix should be kissed; the third, finally, should be 
stronger and more touching. 

Example of this Exercise. 

1. INTRODUCTION. My dear children, if you have 
offended God, you have committed a great crime, and 
very great is the punishment that you have deserved. 
How have you had the boldness to offend a God so 
great and so good ? He has created you, he has loved 
you so much that he gave his life for you, etc. But 
thank the infinite mercy of your God. (PROPOSITION): 
Know that this God, whom you have so much despised, 
wishes to pardon and embrace you to-day if you sin 
cerely repent of having offended him. 

2. PROOF. Do not fear; have confidence. God says 
that he does not wish the death of the sinner, but that 
he be converted, and that he live: I desire not the death of 
the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live 
(Ezeck. xxxiii. n). (All these texts, if one wishes to 
quote them, should be briefly but clearly explained.) 
Hence our Lord invites all sinners, etc. Turn ye to Me 
. . . and I will turn to you (Zach. i. 3). 

3. FACT. (Here is narrated in a few words an example 
of the mercy of God. The most touching is that of the 
prodigal son \Luke, xv.]. We briefly describe his de 
parture from the paternal house, the miserable state to 
which he was reduced; for to keep himself from starv 
ing he was obliged to take care of the swine. Then we 
mention the reception given him on his return by his 
father, who embraced .him, and clothed him with a 
precious garment, which signifies grace, etc. Hence we 
pass on to the MORAL APPLICATION.) You see in this 

C /uip. III. Preparing Children for Confession. 143 

example, my dear children, how good God is towards 
those that return to him with a repentant heart, etc. 
Let us, then, have confidence, etc. If you make to-day a 
good confession, Jesus Christ will embrace you, etc. 
(Here there must be added, in a few words, an example 
of the chastisements that God sends to those w r ho in con 
fession omit through shame to tell some mortal sin. We 
should forcibly dwell upon this point, in order that the 
children at present and in the future conceive great hor 
ror for concealing their sins through shame. Afterwards, 
we let them make the Acts, saying:) Now, before you go 
to confession, it is necessary that you perform the acts in 
order to obtain the pardon of God in confession. 

ACT OF FAITH. My God, because Thou hast revealed 
it to the holy Church, I believe all that the holy Church 
teaches me as of faith. I believe that Thou art my 
God, the Creator of all things, who, during an eternity, 
rewardest the just in paradise and punishest the sinners 
in hell. I believe the mystery of the Most Blessed 
Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three 
Persons, but one God. I believe that God the Son, the 
second Person, was made man by taking the name of 
Jesus Christ, who died for us, who arose again on the 
third day, who is now sitting at the right hand of the 
Father in heaven, that is, equal in glory to God his 
Father, and who will come one day from heaven to 
judge all men. I believe that only the Roman Catholic 
Church is the Church of Jesus Christ, in which alone we 
can obtain eternal salvation. I believe the Communion 
of the Saints; that is, the participation in the good works 
among all those that are in the grace of God. I believe 
the seven sacraments, and especially the sacrament of 
baptism, by which the soul is washed, cleansed from 
sin, and receives the grace of God; the sacrament of 
penance, by which we recover the grace that has been 
lost; and the sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we 

1 44 Exercises of the Missions. 

really receive Jesus Christ, the body, the soul, and the 
divinity. My God, I thank Thee for having made me a 
Christian; and I protest that I wish to live and to die in 
this holy Faith. 

ACT OF HOPE. My dear children, when you have 
sinned, the devil wishes to make you despair; but God 
does not wish us to despair: he even commands us al 
ways to hope for the pardon of our sins, provided we 
repent of them: My God, because Thou art faithful, all- 
powerful, all-merciful, trusting in Thy promises, I hope, 
by the merits of Jesus Christ, the pardon of my sins, 
final perseverance, and the glory of paradise. 

ACT OF CHARITY. Now, my children, God wishes to 
pardon you, but he wants you to love him. What do 
you say ? Does not this God, who is the sovereign 
good, deserve to be loved ? Let us, then, make an act of 
love for God, who is so good: My God, because Thou 
art infinite goodness, the sovereign good, worthy of in 
finite love, I love Thee above all things, with my whole 

ACT OF CONTRITION. But, in the past, have you 
always loved our good God ? have you not offended 
him? Ah, make an act of contrition, with the intention 
of applying it to the confession that you are going to 
make; and pay attention: for if you do not truly repent 
of your sins, Jesus Christ will not pardon you. (We make 
first an act of ATTRITION): Think, my children, that you 
should at this moment burn in hell forever, separated 
from God and excluded from paradise. Now, on ac 
count of hell, which you have deserved, and paradise, 
which you have lost, are you sorry for all the sins that 
you have committed against God? (We then make an 
act of CONTRITION): But, above all, think how great is 
this God, and how much he deserves to be loved by you, 
at least out of gratitude for the love that he has borne 
you by having even died for you. Still, you have done 

Ckap.IIL Preparing Children for Confession. 145 

him an injury: you have preferred nothingness to him 
you have turned your back upon him. Are you sorry 
for all this ? Say, then: My God, during the past I have 
despised Thee; but now I love Thee with my whole 
soul: and because I love Thee, I am sorry for the sins 
that I have committed against Thee, for all the dis 
pleasure that I have caused Thee; I regret all this with 
my whole heart; I should like to die of sorrow, and 
should have rather suffered every evil than have but 
once offended Thee. 

At the end we let the children make a firm purpose 
of never more offending God, by raising the hand as a 
sign of the promise that they are making. They should 
also be told to make now a special resolution never to 
conceal any sin through shame. 

However, before making this formal act of contrition, 
we should take care to have the children to feel sorrow 
several times and for various motives, as has been said 
above, by taking the crucifix when the second motive is 

After these acts it is customary to take a child that is 
distinguished for its innocence, and to have him em 
brace the crucifix on the top step of the altar. 

146 Exercises of the Missions. 



DURING the mission two soliloquies are given: one 
being for the children, the other for the people. The 
only difference between the two is that the first should 
be given in a more plain and familiar manner, accord 
ing to the capacity of the children; but to the second 
the exhortation to penance is added, and is given after 
the act of contrition, as we may see in the example 
given. Both have, however, the same parts and the 
same acts as well for the preparation for Communion as 
for thanksgiving. 

The acts for the preparation are usually the acts of 
faith, adoration, humility, contrition, love, and desire; 
but substantially they may be reduced to three the acts 
of faith, humility, and love: the act of faith is joined to 
that of contrition; and to the act of love, that of desire. 
It will be well to relate between these acts some little 
touching incidents. We begin the whole by a short 
introduction, as may be seen further on in the example 
of the soliloquy for the people, which, excepting the ex 
hortation to peace, resembles the soliloquy for the chil 
dren, as has already been said. 

After the act of contrition, before the Communion of 
the people, the exhortation to peace is given, and be 
fore the Communion of the children the procession 
takes place, which they make outside of the church, all 
wearing a crown of thorns on their heads, and the girls 
having, besides, their faces covered with a white veil. 

Chap. IV. Soliloquies. 147 

(As to the girls, we understand here those that are not 
more than fifteen years old; for those that are older 
go to Communion by themselves, without procession). 
When the children return to the church, before they 
enter, the Communion tickets, received from the mis 
sionary who teaches the catechism, are collected. Then 
the children are placed in a line before the altar, the 
boys being separated from the girls, and the soliloquy 
is concluded by acts of love and of desire, etc. 

Example of the Soliloquy for the People, with the Preparatory 
Acts for Communion. 

INTRODUCTION. Let us be glad and rejoice : and give 
glory to Him : for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and 
His wife hath prepared herself. 1 O my dear Brethren! 
there are no longer tears of grief, but tears of joy and 
of love which I ask of you this morning. Let us be glad 
and let us rejoice: Yes, let us be glad; why? the mar 
riage of the Lamb is come: Jesus Christ, the divine 
Lamb, pacified by your repentance, wishes to come this 
morning to espouse your souls in holy Communion. 
You have longed so much for this day; it has come. 
Prepare yourselves, then: for the heavenly Spouse is 
near; he is ready to enter your hearts. 

tonished that so many envied the happiness of those 
that lived in the time when Jesus Christ was visible on 
earth, when every one could enjoy his presence, speak 
to him face to face, and ask him for favors: " But," she 
said, " have we not in the Blessed Sacrament this same 
Jesus, our Saviour, who not only causes us to enjoy 
there his presence, but gives us as food his sacred flesh 
and his entire self?" Such is the assurance which Jesus 
Christ himself gives you to-day from this altar, from 

1 " Gaudeamus, et exsultemus, et demus gloriam ei, quia venerunt 
nuptiae Agni, et uxor ejus praeparavit se." Apoc. xix. 7. 

1 48 Exercises of the Missions. 

which he says to you: My children, you must know that 
this bread with which you are soon to nourish your 
selves is not bread, but it is my own body: Take ye, and 
eat : This is My body? Reanimate, then, your faith. You 
must have a lively faith to communicate with devotion.. 
Tell me: who is it that lives in the Blessed Sacrament ? 
It is Jesus Christ. Let each one say to himself: Ah, 
my Jesus, I believe firmly, because Thou hast said so, 
that Thou art all entirely with body, soul, divinity, in 
the consecrated Host. I believe that in receiving Thee 
I receive this same Son of God, who was made man and 
who died for me on the cross. Yes, my Saviour and my 
God, in this sacrament I adore Thee with my whole 
heart, and I unite my adoration to that which is paid to 
Thee by the angels and the Most Blessed Virgin. 

the deacon before holy Communion addressed to the 
people these words: If any one is not holy let him not 
approach the Blessed Sacrament. My dear Brethren, you 
wish this morning to receive Jesus Christ; but are you 
holy? If you are not, at least humble yourselves and 
say: I am not worthy. O Lord! I am not worthy to re 
ceive Thee ; I am not worthy even to appear in Thy 
presence. On account of my sins, I should merit to be 
driven from the church and to be cast into hell. But 
no, my Brethren, Jesus Christ does not wish, that you 
should omit approaching him and even receiving him; 
he has said: Him that cometh to Me, I will not cast out? 
He who comes to me with a repentant heart, etc, I will 
not repel. Have you understood me ? Approach, then, 
this sweet Master; but approach with tears, on account 
of the sins that you have committed. (Here the crucifix 
is held in the hand.) Say to him: See, O Lord! the traitor 
whom Thou hast loved so much and who has been so 

1 Accipite, et comedite; hoc est corpus meum." Matt. xxvi. 26. 

2 " Eum, qui venit ad me, non ejiciam f oras. " John, vi. 37. 

Chap. IV. Soliloquies. 149 

ungrateful to Thee. My God, I trust that Thou hast 
already pardoned me; but if Thou hast not yet par 
doned me, ah! do pardon me now before I received 
Thee: I am sorry, etc. 

Exhortation of Peace before Communion. * 

But you must know, my Brethren, that Jesus Christ 
declares in the Gospel that pardon is granted to him 
who pardons: Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. 1 He 
who does not forgive, how can he hope for forgiveness ? 
How could this Lamb, who is so full of love and mercy, 
contentedly enter a soul filled with hatred? He has 
specially ordained that priests should refuse Commu 
nion to those that bear hatred toward others when he 
says: Give not that which is holy to dogs* By the word 
dogs we here understand, according to the interpreters, 
those that bear hatred like infuriated dogs. The angels 
also give notice that the dogs should be kept out of the 
church: Without are dogs* St. Augustine says that 
hatred toward our neighbor renders us children of the 
devil; and according to St. Thomas, the sacrament of 
the altar, this heavenly bread, should be given only to 
the children of God, and not to vindictive dogs who are 
the children of the devil. 

Let him, therefore, tremble who wishes to receive 
holy Communion with hatred in his heart; he might 
experience to-day what is related of a woman who, 
preserving in her heart enmity towards another woman, 
dared to present herself before the Holy Table to fulfil 
the Paschal duty. As this enmity was public, the priest 
refused her Communion; then, in order not to undergo 

" Dimittite, et dimittemini." Lttke, vi. 37. 

2 " Nolite dare sanctum canibus." Matt. vii. 6. 

3 " Foris canes." Apoc. xxii. 15. 

See what has been said about the Exhortation of Peace, page 124. 

1 50 Exercises of the Missions. 

this affront she declared, yet not with sincerity, that 
she forgave her enemy. After Mass, the other woman 
having advanced towards her at the door of the church 
to thank her for her" pardon, she answered: "What 
pardon ? What are you talking about ? I would rather 
die on the gallows than pardon you." Scarcely had she 
uttered these words when she became black in the face 
and fell dead to the floor; before the eyes of all, her 
mouth immediately opened, and the consecrated Host, 
which she had just received, came out of it and remained 
suspended in the air until a priest came and respectfully 
placed it upon the paten. The corpse of the unfortu 
nate woman, like that of a dog, was afterwards thrown 
upon a dunghill. Would any of you wish to be exposed 
this morning to the same fate ? He who desires to 
communicate should banish from his heart all rancor, 

Now, my dear Brethren, you have a sweet consolation 
to give to the heart of Jesus Christ. Arise, then, all of 
you, and hear what you should do: you should all be 
come reconciled with one another; let every one who 
has received an injury, go to embrace the person who 
has offended him, and forgive him, for the love of Jesus 
Christ, Ye boys and girls, go each of you in search of 
your father and your mother, and on your knees before 
them ask their pardon for all the displeasure that you 
have caused them, etc. Afterwards, let all approach 
those who have given offence; let the men embrace the 
men, and let the women embrace the women. Well, 
then, let all of you obey. Peace ! peace ! let hatred be 
far from you, now that the King of peace is about to 
enter your hearts, etc. (At this moment all the mis 
sionaries, surrounding the hearers, exhort the faithful 
to become reconciled with one another.) 

Chap. IV. Soliloquies. 151 

Acts of Desire Immediately before Communion. 
One day St. Catharine of Sienna, arriving late at the 
church for receiving holy Communion, Jesus appeared 
to her, his face very pale, as if he were about to faint 
away. The saint asked him the reason of this, and 
Jesus answered: " My daughter, it is to make known to 
thee how greatly I desire that thou shouldst come to 
receive me; come and receive me immediately." Devout 
souls, you desire to receive Jesus Christ; but know that 
he still more desires to receive you. This whole past 
night our Lord has been, so to speak, occupied in count 
ing the moments, waiting for the morning, in order to 
give himself to your hearts. Prepare yourselves, then; 
in a few moments he will come. Let us say the Con- 
fiteor. (The missionary himself recites the Confiteor in a 
loud voice; and when the priest who is at the altar has 
said the Misereatur, etc., he continues): Come, ye minis 
ters of God, hasten to give Jesus Christ to these faith 
ful souls., who desire to unite themselves to their well- 
beloved Lord, and to satisfy Jesus Christ himself who 
wishes to console them. (Here Ecce Agnus Dei is said.) 
Already, my Brethren, Jesus is coming to you; here he 
is; but before he enters your hearts, ardently invite him, 
saying: Come, my Jesus, the desire of my soul ! Pray 
to the Blessed Virgin to present you to her divine Son 
herself. Oh, what a joy, what a feast, for the angels 
this morning ! Let the bells ring, let the organ resound. 
Here the king of heaven, the divine Spouse, is coming 
to unite himself to you; receive him with a heart burn 
ing with love; call him by sighs full of tenderness: 
Come, my Jesus ! come, my God ! I love Thee, and I wish 
to love Thee always. (At this moment, during the 
ringing of the bells and the playing of the organ, the 
preacher is silent; only from time to time, during holy 
Communion and the playing of the organ, he proposes 

1 5 2 Exercises of the Missions. 

in a few words some motive of fervor and pronounces 
some act or resolution; for example): O Lord! in 
future I will amend my life. Deign to receive "me to 
day; I give myself entirely to Thee. Thou shalt be in 
future my only love. If I should be ever in danger of 
offending Thee, rather let me die at this moment. Tell 
me what Thou wishest of me; I will do in all things 
Thy holy will. Most Holy Virgin Mary, attach me en 
tirely to my Jesus, etc. 

Thanksgiving after Communion. 

Thanksgiving is usually composed of five acts; 
namely: acts of welcome, thanksgiving, oblation, good 
resolution, and petition. We give here some examples: 

i. ACT OF WELCOME. Faithful soul, now that you 
have communicated, see you are now with your God; 
he dwells in you, as he himself has said: He that eateth 
My flesh . . . abideth in Me, and I in him. Reanimate, 
then, your faith; adore Jesus Christ, who has come to 
you; welcome him, embrace him, entertain him. Think 
that Jesus Christ has given himself entirely to you, and 
say to him: O Lord! whither hast Thou come? what 
good didst Thou see in me that could have induced 
Thee to dwell in my heart ? Ah ! be Thou welcome; I 
adore Thee; I embrace Thee; I press Thee to my bosom 
so that Thou mayest never leave me. 

2. ACT OF THANKSGIVING. What do you say ? He 
well deserves to be thanked, he who is the King of 
heaven, who has deigned this morning to enter your 
heart. If a king of this earth would enter your house, 
what thanks, etc. ! Thank him, therefore. But what 
words can suffice to thank a God who descends from 
heaven to visit a wretched being who has offended him ? 
Thank him at least as well as you can; tell him: O 

" Qui manducat meam carnem, ... in me manet, et ego in illo." 
John, vi. 57. 

Chap. IV. Soliloquies. 153 

Lord ! what can I say to Thee, what can I do, to thank 
Thee as Thou dost deserve ? O saints of paradise ! O 
holy angels ! O most blessed Virgin Mary ! help me to 
thank Jesus Christ, who has given himself to me. 

3. ACT OF LOVE. But do you wish to know, devout 
soul, what is the best thanks that you can give to Jesus 
Christ? It is to say to him: My Jesus, I love Thee. 
He wishes that you should love him; it is in order to 
be loved by you that he has given himself to you. Love 
him, then; and offer yourself entirely to him by saying 
to him: Yes, my Jesus, I love Thee with my whole heart; 
and as Thou hast given Thyself entirely to me, I give 
myself entirely to Thee. Deign to receive me; I give 
Thee my body, my understanding, my will, and all that 
I am. I belong no longer to myself, I belong to Thee; 
dispose of me as Thou pleasest. It is sufficient for me 
to love Thee, my Jesus; I desire nothing more. 

4. ACT OF A GOOD RESOLUTION. Oh, what consolation 
do I feel this morning, my dear Brethren, in seeing you 
all united with Jesus Christ ! But a sad thought 
troubles me; it is this: Who knows whether some one 
among you may not again banish Jesus Christ from his 
soul ? Our Lord, on the night before his Passion, and 
on which he instituted the Blessed Sacrament, turned 
to his disciples and sorrowfully said to them that one 
of them would betray him: One of you is about to betray 
Me. 1 Ah ! it seems to me that I hear Jesus Christ say 
ing at this moment: Many of you who have just received 
me will again betray me. Alas ! my Brethren, could 
there be among you any one who, after so many graces, 
would yet be disposed, etc.? I beg you to renew your 
good resolution; promise the Lord to suffer all evils 
rather than lose him again. Say to him: Yes, my God, 
I have offended Thee; I have lived long enough away 

1 " Unus vestrum me traditurus est." Matt. xxvi. 21. 

154 Exercises of the Missions. 

from Thee; the time that remains to me I no longer 
wish to employ to offend Thee any more: no, it is not 
what Thou hast deserved; I wish to use my time only 
to love Thee. To-day I give Thee my word: I am re 
solved to die rather than displease Thee again; I am 
resolved to lose all rather than Thy holy grace. 

5. ACT OF PETITION. But of what use are these prom 
ises if God does not give you the grace to keep them ? 
Now, our Lord, in order to give us his graces, wishes 
that we should ask him for them, especially after Com 
munion. St. Teresa says that, when Jesus Christ comes 
into the soul, he there places himself, as it were, on a 
throne of mercy and says: What wilt thou that I should 
do to thcc ? Cherished soul, ask me what thou desirest; 
I have come to grant thee graces, etc. Open, then, your 
hearts, represent to the Lord your miseries, your wants, 
and ask him for graces; ask him, above all, for holy 
perseverance and for his love. Say with me: O Lord, 
my God ! since instead of sending me to hell Thou didst 
wish with so much love to visit my soul to-day, deign 
to console me by granting me holy perseverance; do 
not allow it ever to happen that I should separate my 
self from Thee. If Thou seest that I shall lose Thee, let 
me rather die before I leave this church. Ask him also 
for the grace of loving him: My God change in me this 
ungrateful heart: let me forget all, in order to love only 
Thee, who hast loved me so much; give me Thy love; 
I wish nothing more. Jesus Christ has promised us 
that all the graces that we ask of his eternal Father in 
his name will be granted to us: Amen, amen I say to you: 
if you ask the Father anything in My name. He will give it 
you? Let us then pray to the eternal Father in the 
name of Jesus Christ, that he may grant us these graces 

" Quid tibi vis faciam ?" Mark, x. 51. 

"Amen, amen dico vobis: Si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine 
meo, dab it vobis." John, xvi. 23. 

CJiap. IV. Soliloquies. 155 

of holy perseverance and of his love: My God, for the 
love of Thy Son, give me and to us all holy perseverance 
and Thy love. Ask him at the same time for the grace 
of always praying to him for perseverance; for he who 
does not continue to ask for it, will not have it. Let us 
also pray to the Blessed Virgin to obtain it for us, etc. 

Then a Pater and an Ave are recited for the bishop, 
the authorities of the place, the parish-priest, and the 
priests, the governor, the landlord of the house where 
the Fathers are staying, and finally for the Fathers 
themselves. We finish by giving the benediction with 
the holy ciborium, and then make the people ask again 
for perseverance, and say at the moment when the 
Blessed Sacrament is inclosed in the tabernacle: Now, 
my Brethren, send your hearts into this tabernacle to 
be inclosed there with Jesus Christ, in order that they 
may always remain united with him. The tabernacle, 
having been shut, its key is put into the hands of the 
statue of Mary with the petition that she should her 
self guard the hearts of all those that are present, so that 
they may never more be separated from Jesus Christ. 

1 56 Exercises of the Missions. 




The Method to be followed in Teaching Catechism. 
THE various points to be observed are the following: 

1. The manner of explaining the doctrine should be 
simple and familiar, and adapted to the intelligence of 
the children, and of uninstructed adults who often come 
to listen. 

2. To the explanation of the mystery or of a precept 
some short moral should always be added; for example: 
After having explained what one understands by a God 
who is a re warder, we may say: See what good is de 
rived from the service of God, and what evil is caused 
by sin, etc. In the same way, when treating of the In 
carnation of Jesus Christ: See what love the Son of God 
has had for us. When speaking of the second com 
mandment of God: It is a great sin to blaspheme, and 
great will be the punishment of the blasphemer in hell, 
etc. Besides, it will be well to quote some appropriate 
example, and also to counsel some practice, such as: 
When you are tempted to anger, say: O Lord! give me 
patience. Mary, my Mother, help me. But these moral 
applications should be short; otherwise they become 
instructions, sermons, as is the case with some mission 
aries who make sermons out of all the exercises. 

3. After the explanation of the mystery, the precept, 
or the sacrament, we put questions to two or three chil- 

Chap. F. The Little Catechism. 157 

dren, in order that the truths taught may remain im 
pressed on their minds; we then present to them a little 
picture, telling, however, the children that such a present 
is never given to those that ask for it. 

4. We should frequently recall to the mind of the 
hearers the three great means of keeping one s self in 
the grace of God, namely: the first, to avoid sinful occa 
sions and bad companions; the second, always to re 
commend one s self to God by prayer, and especially in 
temptations by invoking Jesus and Mary; the third, to 
frequent the sacraments. 

5. The catechist should show authority from the be 
ginning, so that the children may not become too famil 
iar. Moreover, he should guard against using abusive 
language against those that do not answer well, or 
charging the priests of the place with negligence; he 
should rather blame the children for having been care 
less in coming to instructions in catechism. He shall 
positively keep from striking the children, either with 
the hand or with a stick, even though they should be 
have improperly, because thereby great trouble may 
arise. He should rather call to his assistance the priests 
of the place, that they may keep the children quiet. 


What should be Explained to the Children during the 

We should explain to the children during the mission 
the following three points: 

i. The mysteries of our holy faith; 2. The sacraments, 
especially penance and Eucharist; 3. The command 
ments of God and those of the Church, except the sixth 
commandment of the Decalogue, which should not be 
explained to the children, it will suffice to tell them, 
without comment, that this commandment forbids all 
shameful sins. 

1 5 8 Exercises of the Missions. 


We therefore explain, in the first place, the mysteries 
that we should believe, and before all, the four principal 
ones: i. The existence of God, and his perfections; 
2. This God is a just rewarder; 3. The mystery of the 
Holy Trinity; 4. The incarnation and the death of 
Jesus Christ. 

Previously we explain the motive for believing the 
truths of faith, that God himself, the infallible truth, 
who can neither deceive nor be deceived, has revealed 
them to the holy Church, and that the Church teaches 
us these truths. 

1. We explain that there exists only one God, the 
sovereign good, who possesses all perfections: he is in 
finite in goodness and beauty; he is the Creator of the 
universe; all-powerful, he can do all that he wishes; 
immense, he is in every place; eternal, he has always 
been, and will always be. 

2. We explain that God is a just rewarder; on the one 
hand, he rewards the just eternally in paradise after 
having made them pass through purgatory if there still 
remains any temporal punishment due to the faults 
that they have committed; on the other hand, he con 
demns sinners to hell, where they must suffer for all 

3. We explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity, 
namely: in God there are three Persons, the Father, 
the Son, and the Holy Ghost; but these three Persons 
are only one God, because they are only one and the 
same substance, one and the same essence, and they 
have the same divinity and the same perfection: hence, 
as the Father is eternal, the Son is also, etc.; the Father 
does not proceed from any other, the Son, who is also 
called the Word, proceeds from the Father from all 
eternity, being begotten of the Father by intelligence; 
the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son 

CJiap. V. The Little Catechism. 159 

by the will, or by the love that the Father and the Son 
bear to each other. 

4. We explain the incarnation and the death of Jesus 
Christ by saying that the Son of God, the second Per 
son of the Blessed Trinity, has taken a body and has 
become man in the womb of Mary, always Virgin, 
through the operation of the Holy Ghost, and that he 
is called Jesus Christ. Hence Jesus Christ is true God 
and true man: as man he suffered and he died on the 
cross to save sinners; but he arose the third day after 
his death; he afterwards ascended to heaven, where he 
sits at the right hand of the Father: this means that he 
possesses a glory equal to that of his Father. At our 
death he comes to judge us in the particular judgment; 
and at the end of the world, he will come to judge all 
men in the universal judgment after they have risen, 
their souls being united again with their own bodies. 

Afterwards we also explain that there is only one true 
Church, the Roman Catholic Church, outside of which 
there is no salvation. We explain the Communion of 
the Saints, which consists in this: that all the faithful in 
the state of grace participate in the merits of the good 
works of one another. 


In the second place, we explain the seven sacraments: 
Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme 
Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. We say that 
these sacraments have been instituted by Jesus Christ, 
and that they are the means by which we receive the 
graces which our Saviour has merited for us by his 

1. By Baptism our souls receive the grace of God, 
and are purified from every sin, original and actual. 

2. By Confirmation they acquire the power of resist 
ing temptations and combating fearlessly for the faith. 

1 60 Exercises of the Missions. 

3-4. (As to Eucharist and Penance, we shall speak of 
them afterwards.) 

5. By Extreme Unction we receive the help necessary 
to overcome the temptations of the devil at the hour of 
death, the rest of the sins are effaced, and we even obtain 
the health of the body if it be useful for the soul. 

6. By the Sacrament of Holy Orders we receive the 
spiritual power and the graces necessary to exercise it 

7. By the Sacrament of Matrimony man and woman 
receive the grace necessary to fulfil the duties of the 
conjugal state, and to bring up their children according 
to the law of God. 

We afterwards explain more at length the Sacrament 
of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance. 

T. As for the EUCHARIST, there are several things that 
must be explained, namely: 

1. This sacrament really contains Jesus Christ living, 
as he is in heaven, his body, his soul, and his divinity; 
for after the priest at Mass has consecrated the Host, 
this Host, although it preserves the color and the taste 
of bread, yet it is no longer bread, but the body of Jesus 
Christ; so the consecrated wine is no longer wine, but 
the blood of Jesus Christ; so that we must adore the 
sacrament of the altar as we adore God. 

2. When the Host is broken, Jesus Christ is not 
divided; he remains entire in each particle. Besides, 
Jesus Christ really remains in him who receives him, 
until the sacramental species are consumed. 

3. He that communicates receives help and strength 
to live in the grace of God; for as earthly bread pre 
serves the temporal life of the body, so the heavenly 
bread preserves the spiritual life of the soul. 

4. To communicate well there are dispositions re 
quired on the part of the body and on the part of the 
soul. On the part of the body, we must be fasting, 

Chap. V. The Little Catechism. 161 

having neither eaten nor drunk anything since mid 
night. If we have taken anything in the mouth with 
out swallowing it, this would not prevent us from re 
ceiving Communion. On the part of the soul, we must 
be in the state of grace. If we commit a mortal sin, we 
must .confess it before communicating; and if we do not 
confess it, we would render ourselves guilty of sacrilege, 
excepting only in certain rare cases of necessity, for 
example: if we remember the sin only when we are at 
the altar railing, and when we could not withdraw with 
out scandalizing those that are present, it will then be 
sufficient to make an act of contrition. We should be 
still more guilty if we dared to communicate after having 
omitted, through shame, to declare to the confessor a 
mortal sin that we have committed. Those who have 
only venial sins, will do well to confess them; but if we 
communicate with these sins on our consciences, we 
would not commit a sacrilege. 

5. We conclude by instructing the children on the 
great good that is derived from holy Communion; we 
tell them how advantageous it is to receive it frequently, 
and above all to occupy one s self after having received 
it with thanking Jesus Christ for such a favor, and with 
asking for the graces of which one stands in need. 

II. As for the sacrament of PENANCE, we should ex 
plain more at length the five things that are necessary 
to make a good confession, that is: Examination of 
conscience, sorrow, purpose of amendment, confession, 
and penance. 

1. On the subject of the EXAMINATION of conscience, 
we explain that it should precede confession, and should 
be made carefully, according to the time since we have 
not confessed, and according to the number of sins that 

% we have committed. 

2. SORROW, or contrition, should be true, supernatural, 
universal, sovereign, and full of confidence: TRUE, that 


1 62 Exercises of the Missions. 

is, produced by a sincere regret of having offended God; 
SUPERNATURAL, or conceived not on account of natural 
motives, as the loss of goods or of reputation, but on 
account of having offended God, the infinite goodness, 
or of having deserved hell, etc., according as one has 
contrition or attrition with a beginning of love, as we 
shall afterwards explain; UNIVERSAL, comprising all the 
mortal sins committed since the last confession, which 
was well made; SOVEREIGN, so that one regrets the loss 
of the grace of God more than any other loss; FULL OF 
CONFIDENCE, by hoping to obtain from God, through 
the merits of Jesus Christ, the pardon of all our sins. 
Moreover, this sorrow is either perfect or imperfect. It 
is perfect, and it is called CONTRITION, when one repents 
of sin because it has offended the goodness of God. It 
is imperfect, and it is called ATTRITION, when, after hav 
ing offended God (the offence given to God should 
always be the object of sorrow), one repents on account 
of paradise, which one has lost, or on account of hell, 
which one has deserved, or on account of the super 
natural and particular heinousness of the sin committed. 
We therefore detest sin with contrition, because it is an 
evil in regard to God, and with attrition, because it is 
an evil in regard to ourselves. It must be added that 
with attrition alone one receives only pardon when one 
receives the absolution of the confessor; while with con 
trition one obtains it at once before receiving absolution, 
provided one has the intention of confessing one s sins. 
All theologians agree that to attrition should be united 
INITIAL LOVE, that is, a beginning of the love that we 
owe to God; which beginning of love already exists im 
plicitly, as theologians commonly say, in the hope or 
even in the desire which the penitent has of obtaining 
by confession the pardon of his sins and the friendship 
of God. 

3. The PURPOSE of amendment must be firm, univer- 

Chap. V. The Little Catechism. 163 

sal, and efficacious: FIRM, that is, one should be able 
resolutely to say: I wish (and not I should wish) with 
God s help to keep from sin; UNIVERSAL, so that one 
wishes to keep from every sin without exception; EFFI 
CACIOUS, we are thereby induced to use all the necessary 
means not to fall back again into them, and to avoid 
the voluntary proximate occasions; for if one promises 
only to avoid sin, without avoiding the proximate occa 
sions, the purpose is not good. 

4. In CONFESSION, it is useful to declare venial sins; 
however, it is not necessary, since we can obtain pardon 
of them by other means, such as an act of contrition or 
an act of love. But we must necessarily confess the 
mortal sins that we remember to have committed; and 
if we do not confess them, the confession would be 
sacrilegious and null: we would then have to confess 
them again by declaring not only the sin or the sins 
that we" have omitted to tell, but also those sins that we 
told in the bad confession, together with the sacrilege 
that we have committed. If the penitent forgets some 
grievous sin without his fault, the. confession is good; 
but when he remembers the sin, he must confess it in 
his next confession. 

Finally, we must accept the PENANCE imposed by the 
confessor, and perform it as soon as possible; if it 
should happen that it is impossible for us to perform it, 
we should have it commuted either by the same confes 
sor or by another. 


In the third place, we briefly explain the precepts of 
the Decalogue. 

The first commandment, which ordains the adoration 
of God, commands the exercise of the three theological 
virtues, namely: of faith, by believing all the truths of 

1 64 Exercises of the Missions. 

faith enumerated above ; of hope, by hoping in the 
mercy and power of God, and in the promises that he 
has made to us, through the merits of Jesus Christ, of 
obtaining paradise, and all the graces necessary to ob 
tain it; of charity, by loving God above all things, and 
our neighbor as ourselves. This first commandment 
also imposes upon us the obligation of asking God for 
help, that we may keep ourselves in the state of grace 
and obtain salvation. 

The second, which forbids the taking of the name of 
God in vain, forbids us to blaspheme God, or the saints, 
or the holy days, or things holy. It also forbids false 
oaths. (We here explain that to swear BY MY CON 
SCIENCE is not a real oath.) Moreover, it imposes the 
duty of fulfilling the vows that one makes with the in 
tention of binding one s self. 

The third, which ordains the sanctification of holy 
days, commands us to hear Mass, and to abstain from 
servile work, unless there is a necessity, such as may 
arise during the vintage, the harvest, etc. 

The fourth commands us to honor our parents; that 
is, to respect them, to obey them, and to love them by 
helping them in their spiritual and temporal wants. 

The fifth forbids us to kill or unjustly to strike our 
neighbor, and even to wish him any evil, as also to re 
joice at the evil and to grow sad at the good that be 
falls him. 

The sixth forbids all immodest thoughts, words, and 

The seventh forbids us to take, to retain, or to dam 
age the property of another, against his will. 

The eighth forbids us not only to give false testi 
mony, but also (i) to form rash judgments by mis- 
judging our neighbor without a reason; (2) to speak ill 
of our neighbor either by falsely ascribing to him some 
fault, or by making known his hidden though real 
faults, unless it be necessary to manifest them in order 

Chap. V. The Little Catechum. 165 

to remedy a great evil, and on this point it must be 
observed that it is a sin not only to detract or to calum 
niate any one, but even to listen voluntarily to detrac 
tion or calumny; (3) to dishonor our neighbor by action 
or by word; (4) to tell lies, especially when the lies 
are injurious to others. 

The ninth forbids us to give consent to impure 

The tenth forbids us to covet what belongs to our 
neighbor, as also to wish him evil, or to rejoice at the 
evil done, with regard to his worldly goods. 

There are five commandments of the Church, namely: 
i. To hear Mass every Sunday and holy day; 2. To fast 
during Lent, on the Ember days, and on the vigils, and 
to abstain from meat on Friday and Saturdays; 3. To 
confess at least once a year, and to receive Communion 
at least at Easter in one s own parish; 4. To pay tithes 
wherever they are due; 2 5. Not to solemnize marriage 
at the forbidden times. 


The Little Sermon, Addressed to the Children, after Catechism. 
There is no doubt that the missions are useful not only 
to adults, but also to children; nevertheless it has been 
remarked that during the great sermon, which is the 
most important of the mission, the children create the 
greatest disorder; for understanding only a little of 
what is preached they pay but little attention, and spend 
the time in talking, playing, and pushing one another; 
this is a source of constant trouble to the preacher and 
the hearers. It has therefore been thought expedient, 
as is practised in the missions of our Congregation, to 
make the children leave the church at the beginning of 
the great sermon, and to assemble them in another 

1 By dispensation it is allowed to eat meat on Saturdays. 

2 In other words, to contribute to the support of the Church. 

1 66 Exercises of the Missions. 

church or in a chapel, where, after they have received an 
instruction in catechism, we address to them a short 
discourse, which is followed by an act of contrition. 
This special exercise is certainly much more profitable 
to the children than if they listened to the great sermon; 
for the discourse is in accordance with their weak com 
prehension; we employ in it forms and expressions that 
are suitable to them, without Latin texts and without 
division of points. We conclude by having them make 
an act of contrition before the crucifix. Before begin 
ning, some pious hymn is chanted. 

This discourse is composed of five parts: i. The intro 
duction with the proposition, which may take its place; 
2. The amplification; 3. The example; 4. The moral ap 
plication; 5. The conclusion, with the act of contrition, 




1. INTRODUCTION. Death is certain. Whoever is born 
into this world is born condemned to death. Sooner or 
later, young or old, each one must die. 

2. AMPLIFICATION. My dear children, it is certain that 
you all must die. We know not whether you will be 
rich or poor, whether you will have good or bad health, 
whether you will die in bed or elsewhere, whether you 
will die old or young; it may be that you will die before 
having reached the age of fifteen or twenty: how many 
are there who have died in this place even before this 
age ! But, however this may be, my friends, had you 
many years to live, a day will come when you will find 
yourselves about to die, and abandoned by every one; 
for then from the room of the dying person are dis 
missed his parents, his brothers, his sisters, and all the 
rest; you will then remain alone with the crucifix on 
one side, and on the other your spiritual Father, who 

Chap. V. The Little Catechism. 167 

will make the recommendation of the soul, and will say 
to you, mentioning your name: N., go forth from this 
place, go forth from this world. And whither should 
you go? Into eternity, into paradise or into hell, to 
reioice forever with God, etc., or to burn forever, etc. 
Then the devils will surround you, to make you de 
spair by placing before your eyes all your sins. How 
you are to be pitied at this moment ! etc. And if you 
were to die suddenly? 

3. EXAMPLE. Listen to this example A boy used 
often to go to confession; and every one took him to be 
a saint. One night he had a hemorrhage, and he was 
found dead. His parents went at once to his confessor, 
and crying begged him to recommend him to God; and 
he said to them: " Rejoice; your son, I know, was a little 
angel; God wished to take him from this world, and he 
must now be in heaven; should he, however, be still in 
purgatory, I will go to say Mass for him." He put on 
his vestments to go to the altar; but before leaving the 
sacristy, he saw himself in the presence of a frightful 
spectre, whom he asked in the name of God who he was. 
The phantom answered that he was the soul of him that 
had just died. Oh ! is it you? exclaimed the priest; if 
you are in need of prayers, I am just going to say Mass 
for you. Alas ! Mass ! I am damned, I am in hell ! 
And why? "Hear," said the soul: " I had never yet com 
mitted a mortal sin; but last night a bad thought came 
to my mind; I gave consent to it, and God made me die 
at once, and condemned me to hell as I have deserved 
to be. Do not say Mass for me; it would only increase 
my sufferings." Having spoken thus, the phantom dis 

4. MORAL APPLICATION. Now, my dear children, tell 
me: if you were to die now, what would be your death ? 
where would you go ? Take courage, then ! profit by 
this mission and make the resolution to sanctify your- 

1 68 Exercises of the Missions. 

selves, never to commit those shameful sins, nevermore 
to utter curses, blasphemies, bad words, never to take 
what does not belong to you, never to bear hatred 
against your neighbor, etc. Reflect well on this: would 
you like to die as this unfortunate boy died, whose end 
you have heard was so terrible ? 

5. CONCLUSION. As for the past, for the sins that you 
have committed, what are you to do now ? Should you 
despair? No; God does not wish you to despair; he 
wishes that you should ask his pardon, because he 
wishes to pardon you. Now kneel down, and amid 
tears aad sighs ask pardon of God, etc. (Here the act 
of contrition is made, two or three motives of repent 
ance being given, for example): Ah! if you were to die 
this day, this night, on which you had fallen into sin, 
what would become of you ? where would you be ? 
Thank Jesus Christ, your Saviour, with a sincere re 
pentance, etc. What do you say? do you wish to die 
in the arms of Jesus Christ ? But if you wish that Jesus 
should embrace you, you should weep, etc. (While 
speaking of death, in the act of contrition, it will be 
well- to exhibit a skull, and also to call to mind a boy 
now dead who was known to the children, by mention 
ing his name; for example): O N. ! where are you now ? 
What a misfortune if you are damned ! 

This example of a little sermon is given here in an 
abridged form; it should be made longer; for with the 
act of contrition it may last about half an hour or three 
quarters of an hour, after the instruction in catechism, 
which lasts half an hour. It must be remarked that not 
many things should be said to the children, and that it 
is better to repeat to them the same truths or practices, 
in order that they may fix them upon their minds, and 
thus begin to put them in practice. 

Chap. VI. The Large Catechism. \ 69 



THE large catechism, or instruction for the people, is 
one of the most important of the mission; the priest who 
is charged with this duty should be well instructed, and 
should have had great experience in the office of hearing 
confessions, in order to know how to discover the illu 
sions and the innermost recesses of consciences, so as to 
apply suitable remedies. 

This instruction is composed of several parts. It 
begins with the introduction, the exposition of the sub 
ject, and the division; these form the EXORDIUM. Then 
comes the EXPLANATION of the mystery, or of the sacra 
ment, or of the commandment, to be followed by the 
MORAL APPLICATION, with the practice. At the end we 
answer objections,or excuses brought forward by persons 
that have no tender consciences; then we briefly sum up, 
in the form of an EPILOGUE, what has been said in the 
instruction, and finish with the Christian acts. 

i. The INTRODUCTION is drawn from the preceding 
instruction, so as to unite the material and to refresh 
the memory by summing up what has been said the 
evening before. This is done, however, only when the 
things have some connection with one another; other 
wise the introduction is formed by announcing the im 
portance of the subject which one wishes to treat. As 
for the EXPOSITION, if there is question of a command 
ment, we take care to distinguish all that it contains. 

1 See Hints to the Catechist, which precede Instructions on the Com 
mandments and Sacraments. 

i 70 Exercises of the Missions. 

The DIVISION of the points serves to elucidate better the 
material, and to impress better on the minds of the 
hearers the truths that one exposes to them. These 
three members, as has already been said, form a sort of 
EXORDIUM; hence they should be very short. 

2. We enter, then, into the EXPLANATION of the mys 
tery, or of the sacrament, or of the commandment. 
What one teaches should be confirmed by authorities 
a few of them to be cited briefly as well from rea 
sons as from facts that refer to the subject. It is es 
pecially useful to employ comparisons, which should 
be clearly exposed. 

3. Thence we pass to the MORAL APPLICATION by ob 
serving that one should not only enlighten the mind, 
but should also move the will of the hearers to flee from 
vice, and to use the remedies and the means necessary 
to avoid them; many more sins are committed by a bad 
disposition of the will than by ignorance. The moral 
application should also be short; it should be announced 
with animation, but without adopting the preaching tone 
and without outbursts of the voice. Sometimes, in the 
instruction, it is useful to raise the voice against a vice, 
or a maxim of the world, or an excuse made by people 
who lead a bad life; but these oratorical bursts should be 
short and rare, in order to avoid the defect of some who 
make sermons out of their instructions, confounding 
this last exercise with the first. 

We should, above all things, take care, in giving the 
instruction, to insinuate practical things by teaching the 
people the very words that it will be proper for them to 
say when an occasion presents itself of putting in prac 
tice what has been indicated ; for example: if one receives 
from another an injury or some annoyance, let him say 
to him : May God make you a saint ! I shall pray to God 
to enlighten you. So also when any one has met with 
some loss or other adversity, let him say: May all be for 

Chap. VL The Large Catechism. 1 7 1 

the love of God ! May the will of God be done ! This 
kind of practice should be repeated many times, in order 
that it may remain impressed upon the memory of 
simple and uninstructed people, who do not understand, 
or who soon forget the Latin texts and other things; 
they can remember only these short and easy practices 
which are taught them, and which are often repeated to 


The catechist should also speak of certain excuses or 
frivolous difficulties which some are accustomed to bring 
forward in order to palliate their faults; these are, for 
example, some of the false reasons: that they have not 
the means of living without taking the property of an 
other; that others do the same; that they are not saints; 
that they are flesh and blood; that such a neighbor or 
such a relative is the cause of their sins-. Moreover, it 
should be declared that if any one would be inclined to 
revenge himself in case he had received an injury, he 
would be continually in a state of sin and that he could 
not justify himself by the worldly maxim that a man 
must take care of his honor. These false and wicked 
reasons should be forcibly and warmly refuted, so that 
the hearers may free their minds from certain prejudices 
which they hold to be maxims. This is the cause why 
many always remain in sin, and end in losing their souls. 

The instruction is concluded in the EPILOGUE, which 
is a summary, as short and as substantial as it can be, of 
the doctrine that has been taught; and at the end we 
leave to the hearers, as a remembrance, a maxim of re 
ligion .adapted to the subject and capable of making an 

These rules are common to all catechetical instruc 
tions; but as for those that are given during the mis 
sions a few more remarks should be made. 

I i n the first place, as to the subjects which are to be 
explained in the missions, the instruction is restricted 

1 7 2 Exercises of the Missions. 

chiefly to three points, the same that have already been 
spoken of in the little catechism, namely: i. The mys 
teries; 2. The sacraments, especially the sacrament of 
penance; 3. The commandments of God and of the 
Church. But in the large catechism these subjects 
should be explained more at length, with more details, 
and in another manner, by making the things that we 
teach rest on authorities and reasons. 

There are catechists who think that it is better to 
speak first of confession, and then of the command 
ments. For my part I find it preferable to begin by 
the commandments.; for if we explain them towards 
the end of the mission, it will easily happen that this 
explanation will raise scruples in the consciences of the 
hearers; this will oblige them to go to confession again, 
and thus we should lose much time. If, however, we 
should wish to join the explanation of the command 
ments to that of the first part of the confession, which 
is the examination of conscience, this would also be 

And as the greatest utility of the missions consists 
perhaps, and even without doubt, in the reparation of 
sacrilegious confessions, we must insist on this point in 
every instruction: in showing how great is the malice of 
sacrilege, and how many souls are lost through the 
weakness that they show when they conceal their sins 
in confession. Many unfortunate persons, overcome by 
shame, even when they confess to the missionaries, as 
we know from experience, continue to conceal their 
sins ; now, if there be one who in the mission has not 
the courage to repair the confessions he has made 
badly, how can he escape losing his soul? If he has 
not overcome his shame when he confesses to a mission 
ary, how will he overcome it when he returns to his 
ordinary confessor? It is for this reason, as has been 
already said, that we must always insist on this point. 

Chap. VI. The Large CatccJiism. 173 

For this purpose it is customary in our missions that 
the catechist, at the end of his instruction and before 
the recitation of the Christian acts, always recites a ter 
rible example and these examples are numerous of a 
soul damned for having concealed sins in confession. 
This is not conformable to the rules of art, since the 
example does not always correspond to the instruction; 
but it corresponds to the end of the missions, which are 
chiefly given to remedy sacrilegious confessions. It is 
sufficient to introduce the example in these words: 
Take care, then, to confess all the sins that you have 
committed, according as I have told you to-day, and do 
not through shame omit anything. 

II. It is a strange error on the part of catechists when 
they fill their instructions with fine words, scholastic 
questions, and witticisms, while the poor people are ask 
ing for substantial bread, with which they could be nour 
ished so easily. 

1. As for expressions, the common rule is that the 
style of the instruction should be altogether simple and 
popular without descending to what is silly and low; 
this is never necessary, and is unsuitable to the pulpit. 
The period should be short and concise. It is often use 
ful to ask questions, which the catechist answers himself; 
this is a means of keeping the hearers more attentive, and 
of impressing better on their memory the things that are 

2. As for scholastic questions, they are suitable for 
the literary exercises of theologians, and not for the 
instruction of the people from the pulpit ; since the 
hearers consist mostly of those that are but little in 
structed, and that do not understand these questions, or 
at least cannot derive any profit from them. If there 
happens to be among the hearers a learned man, if he is 
prudent and discreet, he will praise this simple manner 

1 74 Exercises of the Missions. 

of instructing the people, and he will blame the catechist 
who acts otherwise. 

3. Finally, as to witticisms, I beg my dear reader to 
consider well what I am now writing. I do not deny 
that certain catechists adopt this style, saying that it is 
useful in order to attract the people to the instruction 
as well as to keep their attention, and to prevent them 
from growing tired. But for myself I know thus much: 
it is this: that the saints, in their instructions, did not 
make people laugh, but they made them cry. We read 
in the life of St. John Francis Regis that in his missions 
the people who heard his sermons, as well as his many in 
structions, did not cease to weep from beginning to end. 

Here at least is what I say: If any one wishes to in 
dulge in some pleasantry which naturally arises from 
the subject that is treated, such a thing might be al 
lowed; while speaking, for example, of men that have a 
bad conscience, it would be proper to relate the ridicu 
lous excuses that they make; the same thing may be 
said of other similar cases. But to wish to make a 
comical scene of the instruction by relating witty anec 
dotes, odd stories, with expressions and gestures, the 
object of which is to excite the laughter of the hearers, 
I do not know how that can agree with the respect due 
to the church in which one is, and with the pulpit from 
which one teaches the word of God, and in which the 
catechist appears as the minister of Jesus Christ. It is 
true that people take pleasure in hearing witty things, 
and things that will make them laugh; but I ask, What 
benefit can be derived from such a practice? Certainly, 
after they have laughed, the hearers will find themselves 
so distracted and so much deprived of piety that it will 
be difficult for them to re-collect themselves again; and 
often, instead of listening to the moral application which 
our facetious catechist must draw from his witty re 
marks in order not to be regarded as a charlatan, they 

Chap. VI. The Large Catechism. 1 75 

will think only of that which has made them laugh. 
Were there even no other inconvenience connected 
therewith, the catechist who delights in saying face 
tious things, and in indulging in pleasantries, will surely 
not acquire among the hearers the reputation of a saint, 
or of a soul filled with the love of God; the most that he 
can obtain would be to be regarded as an amusing and 
agreeable man. Moreover, it is a mistake to believe 
that without these pleasantries many people will not 
come to the instruction nor pay attention to it. I even 
say that many more will come, and that they will listen 
with greater attention, when they see that they do not 
lose any time, that the hearing of an instruction is not 
merely a simple amusement, but that it is a useful exer 
cise disposing them to virtue and to piety. 

HI We should guard against exposing certain doc 
trines that might produce some laxity of conscience. 
Such doctrine may well be applied to some one in par 
ticular when he comes to confession; but when an 
nounced in the pulpit, it may injure the hearers who 
are inclined to be lax: for from this doctrine, which is 
otherwise just and useful when it is applied under the 
required circumstances, they may perhaps draw lax and 
unwarrantable conclusions. 

Nevertheless, it is good and even necessary to enlighten 
the erroneous consciences of those that look upon that 
to be a sin which is not a sin. There are, for example, 
persons that think that they have rash suspicions or rash 
judgments, and that they commit sin even when there ex 
ists a reason sufficient for suspecting or judging. Some 
take it to be a grave sin to curse the years, the days, the 
wind, or the rain: others think that it is wicked slander 
if they make known to parents the thefts, the bad habits, 
or other faults of their children, even when this is neces 
sary so as to remedy the evil. Others believe that they 
are committing sin when they do not keep a certain com 

i 76 Exercises of the Missions. 

mandment of the Church, for example, to hear Mass, to 
fast, even in cases when they have received a dispensa 
tion, etc. It must be explained that these are not sins, 
or that in regard to the circumstances they^ are not 
mortal sins. 

We should, on the other hand, indicate the sins that 
are certain, especially those that are the cause of other 
grievous sins; for example: we must teach the people 
that lie who does not avoid the voluntary proximate 
occasion of mortal sin sins grievously even when he 
would not have the intention of committing sin, and 
when he would not know that it is a grave sin to expose 
one s self to this occasion; for, when one exposes one s 
self to a similar occasion, it is morally certain that he 
will fall into sin. 

We should instruct women in regard to superstitious 
things or vain observances, although they practice them 
in good faith. We must also inform them that they are 
in a bad state when they take pleasure in having and 
seek to have men to long for them without intending to 
be married. 

Besides, there are persons that do not look upon it as 
a grievous sin to curse holy-days or holy things ; we 
should enlighten them on this point : otherwise they 
will contract a habit of it ; and if this habit is once 
contracted, they cannot get rid of it, even after they 
acknowledge that such curses are grievous faults. 

When speaking of the sixth commandment, we should 
avoid scandalizing the innocent by awakening their curi 
osity in regard to the evil of which they are ignorant ; it 
is sufficient, on this point, to condemn in general what 
offends chastity, without explaining the species or the 
circumstances; so that those that are guilty may under 
stand how they should confess them, and those that are 
innocent may remain in their ignorance. We must, how 
ever, teach the people when in this matter bad thoughts 

Chap. VI. The Large Catechism. 177 

and words are or are not sins. But we should especially 
speak of the remedies against the impure vice, by often 
recommending among other things the three great 
means, which are: the flight of the occasion, the fre- 
quentation of the sacraments, and, above all, prayer, 
without which no one can be chaste. 

The reader is asked to see what has been said in the 
preceding chapter, for the little catechism; in it may be 
found many things which may also serve for the large 
catechism, or catechetical instruction for adults, and 
which are here omitted. 

We afterwards narrate some terrible examples of per 
sons who, for having omitted, through shame, to confess 
their sins, have had an unhappy end. We may relate 
one of these examples every day before reciting the 
Christian acts, as we have indicated above. 1 We quote 
these examples succinctly; he that wishes to use them 
may lengthen them and express them more forcibly, 
according as he sees fit. 2 

Then we make the Christian acts in the following 

The acts of faith and hope are made like those that 
are found in the acts preparatory to the confession of 
the children. 3 As to the act of faith particularly, we 
should make it in all its extent, by maintaining in it not 
only the four principal mysteries, which must be believed 
as a necessary means to salvation, but also the others 
that are contained in the Symbol, or Creed, and which 
must be believed by necessity of precept; in it we should 
also mention the sacramerits by at least specifying the 
four sacraments necessary to every Christian, namely: 

1 Page 173. 

2 The examples to be related here are the same as those given in this 

3 Page 143. 


i 78 Exercises of the Missions. 

baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, and penance. We in 
clude confirmation among the sacraments necessary to 
all Christians, because Benedict XIV. 1 has declared that 
those that neglect to receive it commit a mortal sin. 

We must add the acts of charity, contrition, and firm 
purpose, but in form other than is indicated above; for 
example : 


My God, because Thou art infinite goodness, worthy of 
infinite love, I love Thee above all things with my whole 
heart. And because I have offended Thee, Thou who 
art infinite goodness, I repent of all my sins; I am sorry 
for them with my whole heart. By Thy grace, which I 
ask of Thee now and always, I firmly resolve to die 
rather than offend Thee any more. T also purpose to 
receive the sacraments during my life and at my death 

1 Const. Etsi pastor alls, 3, n. 4. 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. /. The Invention. 179 



To proceed with order in speaking of the great ser 
mon, which is the most important exercise of the mis 
sion, we shall treat separately of the three parts to which, 
according to rhetoricians, one should pay especial atten 
tion; we shall speak, then, i, of the Invention; 2, of the 
Disposition; and, 3, of Elocution.* 

The Invention, or the Choice of Materials for composing a 

Great is the error of some who, before having found 
the materials, set themselves to determine the points 
and to compose the sermon. One must, before all, pre 
pare the materials, that is, the texts of Scripture, the 
arguments, the comparisons, etc.; which are to serve to 
prove the proposition that one has in view. For this 
purpose one may profit by the many collections that 
exist, such as those of Joseph Mansi of Beyerlinck, of 
Lohner, of Spanner, of Father Houdry, and of others. 
Rhetoric, moreover, indicates to us the places whence 

1 We put here in the first rank the works of our holy Doctor himself; 
we shall find in them an abundant and a sure mine for every kind of 

* These three parts form the three articles of the chapter which in 
addition contains the following: 4. The Memory, the Pronunciation, 
and Gesture. 5. Special instructions for the sermons of the mission. 
6. The exercise of a devout life. 7. The last sermon on perseverance, 
with the Papal blessing. 8. Other remarks relative to the sermon. 

1 80 Exercises of the Missions. 

we may draw, as from certain sources, the proofs needed 
for the sermon: some are called COMMON PLACES or 
TOPICS (Loci Communes] ; others PARTICULAR PLACES. 
The common places or topics are those that are service 
able for every kind of discourse; the particular, those 
that are proper to every particular discourse, to estab 
lish the fitness or unfitness, the necessity or special 
utility of that which one wishes to persuade. 

But, ordinarily speaking, the common places or topics 
are those that serve to compose all the sermons ; and it 
is of these that we shall here treat. They are divided 
into INTRINSIC PLACES or TOPICS, which are those that one 
finds in the nature of the subject itself, and into EX 
TRINSIC PLACES or TOPICS, which exist outside of the 
nature of the subject. 

i. COMMON INTRINSIC PLACES OR TOPICS. (Loci communes interiores.} 

The common INTRINSIC places or topics are fifteen in 

1. The DEFINITION of the thing; for example: in 
establishing that sin is a great evil, because it removes 
us from God. 

2. The ETYMOLOGY of the name; for example: Sacerdos 
signifies, according to St. Thomas, Sacra dans and Sacra 
docens [one who gives sacred things, and one who teaches 

3. The ENUMERATION of parts (Enumeratiopartium)j for 
example: Temperance is useful for soul and body, for 
eternal life and for temporal life. Or, when one affirms 
on the one hand what one denies on every other; for 
example: One is unhappy at death, not for having lived 
in poverty, in a low state of life, etc., but for having led 
a bad life. 

4. The CONJUNCTION of words ; that is, when one is 
derived from the other; as hated from hatred. It is thus 
that one says: God bears a sovereign hatred to sin: this 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. I. The Invention. 181 

is the reason why he that is united with sin is sover 
eignly hated by God. 

5. GENUS, as in this reasoning: It is sin that brings 
ruin upon men; so this unlawful friendship, your pos 
session of what belongs to another, etc., will be your 

6. SPECIES, as when one says: This man is just; there 
fore he is virtuous. 

7. SIMILITUDE and COMPARISON (Similitudo ct Compara- 
tio). It must be observed that similitude requires a 
total resemblance between two objects. For a compar 
ison it is sufficient that the objects resemble one another 
in some point; it may also take place either between 
equal things, or between things greater and smaller. 
From similitude we here draw the argument : The 
farmer, when he does not cultivate the earth, cannot 
expect a crop; so he that does not apply himself to the 
cultivation of the mind will never make progress, etc. 
To similitude belong EXAMPLES, PARABLES, and FABLES. 
The parable is a fiction in which one exposes possible 
facts; the fable, or apologue, is a fiction in which one 
exposes impossible facts, as when one should make ani 
mals or plants speak. Sermons more easily admit para 
bles, rarely, however, fables; sometimes one may better 
employ fables in the instructions, in order to urge men to 
the practice of a virtue. 

8. RESEMBLANCE, as when one says: It is proper to the 
brute to live according to the desires of its senses; the 
Christian should live according to the maxims of faith. 

9. CAUSE (causa), which can be efficient or final, for 
mal or material. EFFICIENT cause, for example: God 
has created us; therefore he is our absolute master. 
FINAL cause: God has created us, not for the vile and 
transient pleasures of the earth, but for the immense 
and eternal delights of paradise. FORMAL cause: The 
soul is created after the image of God; therefore it is 

1 82 Exercises of Ike Missions. 

more noble than all the treasures of the earth. MATE 
RIAL cause: Our body is composed of dust, therefore it 
must return to dust. 

10. EFFECT; for example: Patience renders us agree 
able to God, and helps us to remain in peace. 

11. CONTRARIES, of which there are several kinds, 
namely: i. OPPOSITES; for example: Meek persons are 
loved by God and men; the irascible are hatred by God 
and men. 2. PRIVATIVES: The sinner is deprived of 
God s grace, and consequently of peace, which is the 
companion of grace. 3. CONTRADICTORIES : He that 
loves God has everything, so that he is always content; 
he that does not love God finds himself deprived of the 
most precious good, which is the grace of God, and in 
this state he is always dissatisfied. 4. INCOMPATIBLES, 
or things that cannot coexist in the same subject: The 
love of God and the love of the world cannot exist 

12. ANTECEDENTS; for example: Quce cnim seminaverit 
homo, hccc ct metct " What things a man shall sow, those 
also shall he reap " (Gal. vi. 8). 

13. CONSEQUENTS; for example: He that is unquiet 
shows that he is not resigned to the will of God. 

14. RELATIVES; for example: If God is our master, we 
are his servants; consequently we are obliged to obey. 

15. ADJUNCTS, or circumstances of the fact, which are 
enumerated in the well-known verse: Qitis, quid, ubi, 
quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo, quando. i. Quis ; for ex 
ample: The sinner offends a God so great, so powerful, 
and so good. 2. Quid ; sin is a sovereign evil, because 
it deprives us of God, of paradise, and of peace. 3. Ubi : 
The sinner offends God in his presence. 4. Quibus auxi- 
liis : The sinner, in order to offend God, uses the very 
gifts of God, such as health, riches, etc. 5. Cur : Why 
does the sinner consent to lose God, the sovereign good ? 
To procure a little smoke, a miserable interest, a short 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. I. The Invention. 183 

pleasure. 6. Quomodo : The Christian sins more griev 
ously than the unbeliever, because he sins with more 
light and with greater remorse. 7. Quando : The sinner 
offends God during the very time in which God bestows 
favors upon him, preserves him, and provides for his 

Common EXTRINSIC places or topics for the sermon are 
the following: 

1. HOLY SCRIPTURE, from which we draw the strongest 
and most appropriate arguments for eternal salvation, 
as has been done by all the holy Fathers, and by Jesus 
Christ himself when he preached. St. Jerome says that 
there exists no more unworthy preacher than he that 
does not rest his sermons on holy Scripture. However, 
in sermons we must use texts of Scripture that are short, 
and that are taken in their proper sense, and we must 
avoid all forced and odd interpretations. 


3. The OPINION OF THE HOLY FATHERS; and to give 
great authority to what one wishes to prove, it will be 
good to quote their own Latin words, and afterwards 
explain them more clearly to the people. 

4. SCHOLASTIC THEOLOGY conduces greatly to prove 
certain maxims; but in the pulpit we should avoid treat 
ing of any point of controversy, and bringing forward 
subtilties which are more apt to confuse than to per 
suade the minds of the people. 


THE POPES, whenever a case is presented. 

6. HISTORICAL FACTS, especially the facts drawn from 
Scripture. As for other historical facts it will be proper 
to support them by indicating the author, the time, and 
the place; and they should be rarely given, so as to 
avoid the defect of those whose sermons are a compli 
cation of facts related one after another. 

1 84 Exercises of the Missions. 

The collection of materials for the sermon is made in 
the following manner. The proposition having been 
found, we write promiscuously on a sheet of paper the 
opinions, the arguments, the similitudes, and the ex 
amples that we have succeeded in discovering. Then 
after re-reading all, we examine the points to which the 
sermon may be reduced. After this, on another sheet 
we write separately every point designated by a special 
title, under which we again promiscuously inscribe the 
materials that belong to this point, giving to each a dis 
tinct number. When we are in possession of materials 
sufficient for each point, we set about putting in order 
the authorities, the arguments, the moral application, 
etc., everything in its place. This done, we begin to 
work out the sermon according to the following rules, 
of which we are now going to speak. 

The Disposition of the Parts that belong to the Sermon. 

The parts of the sermon are nine in number, namely: 
The Exordium, the Introduction, the Proof, the Refuta 
tion, the Epilogue, the Moral Application, and the Ex 
hortation. But all these are reduced to three principal 
parts, which are the Exordium, the Proof, and the Pero 
ration: for in the EXORDIUM are united the proposition 
and the division; in the PROOF are united the Introduct 
ion which precedes and the refutation which follows 
it; finally, the PERORATION, or CONCLUSION, comprises 
the epilogue, the moral application and the exhortation. 

It must, however, be observed that the foregoing nine 
parts are not always found in the sermon, the most of 
them being accidental: only the proposition and the 
proof are the essential and absolutely necessary parts; 
but I add that in regard to mission sermons one should 

Chap. VIL The Sermon. I L Disposition. 185 

regard as necessary and essential the moral application 
and the exhortation. 

We shall speak of each of these parts in particular. 


The exordium we may draw from innumerable sources, 
the principal one of which we here indicate. 

1. Ex visccribus causce ; for example: if the proposi 
tion, or the aim is to show how much one should fear a 
bad death, the exordium may be as follows: Every man 
that is born is born to die; for this earth is only a place 
through which we are passing to eternity, etc. 

2. Ab opinione sive judicio ; for example: To believe 
that it is easy to die a good death after a life of dissipa 
tion, of wickedness, is folly. Or; To wish to defer one s 
conversion, and to wish to be damned, we should be con 
vinced, are one and the same thing. 

3. A contrario ; that is: When one begins by a pro 
position contrary to that which one wishes to prove; 
for example: It is certainly a great happiness for some 
sinners who after a bad life are converted at their death, 
and are saved; but these cases are very rare: ordinarily 
he that leads a bad life dies a bad death. (This last 
proposition will be the subject of the sermon.) 

4. Ab cxemplo : By beginning with the narration of an 
example, which one afterwards adapts to the proposition 
of the sermon. 

5. Ab expositione : By exposing some text of Scripture, 
or, the importance of the subject which one wishes to 
treat; for example: He that thinks of hell will not go 
to hell; hence, my dear Brethren, I wish to place before 
your eyes to-day the pains of hell, so that none of you 
may have to undergo this punishment. 

6. Ex abun daiiti ; that is: When the preacher an 
nounces at the beginning that the subject that he has in 
hand is very vast, and that therefore he must confine 

1 86 Exercises of the Missions. 

himself to some points which he regards as the most im 

7. Ex adjunctis : When one begins with some circum 
stance of person, of place, or of time. 

8. Ex abrupto : The exordiums drawn from the sources 
that precede are called LEGITIMATE; the exordium ex 
abrupto is called EXTRAORDINARY, and is rarely employed: 
it occurs when without any preamble one begins by an 
exclamation of reproach, of compassion, or of astonish 
ment; for example: O sinner! when will you cease to 
flee from God, who has been seeking for you so long a 
time? Or: Poor sinners, poor unfortunate beings, 
who lead an unhappy life in this world, to spend after 
wards a more unhappy life in the next! Or: O all- 
powerful God! how canst Thou bear with these un 
grateful men, who, enlightened and called by Thy 
mercy, always continue to offend Thee? 

We note here that the exordium may be found de 
fective either by being too long or too common, being 
applicable to every kind of discourse, or by having but 
little connection with the sermon, while the exordium 
should agree with the subject that one wishes to treat. 

Rhetoricians assign to the exordium seven parts, 
namely: The introduction, the general proposition, the 
confirmation, the repetition, the connection, the particu 
lar proposition, and the division. 

1. The INTRODUCTION is a little insinuation in order 
to arrive at the general proposition. 

2. The GENERAL DISPOSITION is that which one prom 
ises in order afterwards to come to the particular or 
principal proposition of the sermon. 

3. The CONFIRMATION is another proof of the general 

4. The REPETITION reproduces the general proposition, 
in order to pass to the particular proposition. 

Chap. VI L The Sermon. //. Disposition. 187 

5. The CONNECTION is the bond that unites the general 
proposition with the particular proposition. 

6. The PARTICULAR PROPOSITION is the principal prop 
osition, or that which one wishes to prove; which must 
always be understood when one says simply: The prop 

7. The DIVISION is the indication of the different points 
of the particular proposition. 

It must be observed that not all these parts of the 
exordium are necessary, especially in mission sermons, 
for which the three principal may be sufficient, namely: 
the general proposition, the connection, a^nd the particu 
lar proposition. 

The following is briefly an example of the exordium. 
If one wishes to prove how difficult it is to die a good 
death after a bad life, one should say: (GENERAL PROP 
OSITION, with the CONFIRMATION): We must be saved; 
for if we are not saved, we shall be damned; there is no 
middle way. (CONNECTION): Now, in order to be saved we 
must die a good death by leaving the world in the grace 
of God. (PARTICULAR PROPOSITION): But it is difficult 
to die a good death when we have lived a bad life, etc. 
The general proposition may be amplified in various 
ways; for example: It is not necessary to be noble or 
rich in this world; but it is necessary to be saved. 

The PARTICULAR PROPOSITION, or principal, is drawn 
from the subject which one wishes to treat; for it is the 
centre to which all the proof should converge, like so 
many rays. It should announce clearly and briefly a 
truth that one wishes to prove, never anything extrava 
gant. Moreover, it is an absolute rule that unity should 
be preserved; otherwise one would have, not one 
sermon, but several. This unity, however, does not 
prevent a division into different points; this makes the 
hearers more attentive, and better impresses on their 

1 88 Exercises of the Missions. 

minds the truth one preaches to them; but the points 
should always agree to form a single proposition. 
The DIVISION may be made in various ways: 

1. By the QUALITIES OF THE SUBJECT; example: We 
should always be prepared for death, first, because death 
is certain, and, secondly, because the hour of death is 

2. By the EFFECTS: The bad habit of sin renders sal 
vation very difficult, first, because it blinds the mind of 
man, and, secondly, because it hardens his heart. 

3. By the CAUSES: The death of the sinner will be 
very bad, first, because of the temptations of the devil; 
secondly, because of the remembrance of the sins com 
mitted; and, thirdly, because of the abandonment by 


4. By the ENUMERATION OF THE PARTS: The general 
judgment will be terrible, first, on account of the presence 
of the divine Judge; secondly, on account of the ex 
amination; and, thirdly, on account of the sentence. 

5. By the DIVERSITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES contained in 
this verse already quoted: Quis, quid, ubi, qmbus auxiliis, 
cur, quomodo, quando. Example: Quis : The sinner 
offends God, who is his Creator, his Redeemer, and his 
Preserver. Quid: Sin is an offence against God, and an 
evil to the soul that commits it. We explain in the 
same way the other circumstances. 

The rule in regard to the points is that they should 
be announced in a few words, as briefly as possible, and 
that they should be restricted as to the number two or 
three at the most. To subdivide afterwards the points 
into other points is a defect. It is not a defect, on the 
other hand, to restrict the sermon to the simple demon 
stration of the particular proposition without making 
any division of points; for example: He that abuses the 
divine mercy will be abandoned by it. Or: Sin is the 
greatest of all crimes, because it shows contempt for 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. //. Disposition. 189 

God. The method is sometimes useful in order to have 
more liberty to enlarge on the matter that one treats, as 
one is not restricted to determined points. 

We have already said that the proof contains three 
parts, namely: the Introduction, the Proof itself and the 

I. The INTRODUCTION is only a preamble in order to 
enter upon the proof; it may be drawn from the follow 
ing sources, namely: 

1. From the DEFINITION; for example: If we speak of 
scandal we may give the definition of St. Thomas: 
" Scandal is a word or action that is not becoming and 
is an occasion of sin to another." We shall afterwards 
explain it. 

2. From the DISTINCTION: If there is question of the 
occasion of sin, the introduction may be made as fol 
lows: To proceed with order we must distinguish the 
proximate occasion from the remote. The first is, etc. 

3. From the DIFFICULTY OF THE SUBJECT: In speaking 
of the malice of mortal sin we may say: To understand 
what a great evil mortal sin is, we must understand 
what a great good God is; now, who will ever be able 
to understand the goodness, the power, the wisdom of 
God ? etc. 

4. From some GENERAL PROPOSITION to pass thence to 
a particular proposition: In speaking of the sacrilegious 
confession one may begin by describing the malice of 
sacrilege in general. 

5. From some SYLLOGISM or EUTHYMEME, the conclusion 
of which leads to the proof of the proposition. 

6. From some celebrated QUESTION, or some OPINION 
of a holy Father, or some EXAMPLE. 

In every case one must take care that this introduc- 
1 " Scandalum est dictum vel factum minus rectum, praebens occa- 
sionem ruinae. " 2. 2. q. 43. a. r. 

190 Exercises of the Missions. 

tion should be short and proximate: SHORT, so that one 
passes at once to the proof; PROXIMATE, or drawn from 
the intrinsic principles of the subject which one treats. 

II. As to the PROOF, one must understand that the 
body of the discourse should be composed of the proof 
of the principal proposition; so that in order to persuade 
the hearers it should have the form of perfect reasoning 
of course not after the manner of logicians but of ora 
tors; that is, exposed in a clearer and more extended 
manner. One should observe that it is always better to 
present few proofs by choosing the more convincing, and 
by explaining them well, than by amassing a large num 
ber that are of little value or are but little developed. 

The following are the various modes of argumen 
tation used by rhetoricians: 

1. The SYLLOGISM; which is composed of three prop 
ositions, namely: the major, the minor, and the con 
clusion, exposed, as has been said above, in a way that 
is more ample than in simple reasoning. One proves 
the major before passing to the minor, and the minor 
before coming to the conclusion; this is, however, only 
done when the major or the minor stands in need of a 
proof; for if they are known and held to be certain, it is 
sufficient if one amplifies them without proving them. 

2. The ENTHYMEME; which is a syllogism reduced to 
two propositions, the antecedent and the conclusion; 
one adds the proof to the antecedent if it is necessary. 

However, the preacher should take care to invest the 
syllogism and the enthymeme with an oratorical form, 
so that they may not appear as such. 

3. The DILEMMA; which consists of two different prop 
ositions, one of which being denied, the other is neces 
sarily to be admitted; for example: Either God deceives 
man, or man deceives himself; now, God cannot de 
ceive: therefore, it is certain that man deceives himself. 

4. The INDUCTION; which consists in drawing a con- 

Chap. VI L The Sermon. II. Disposition. 191 

elusion from a certain premise; thus: If the just tremble 
while living amid penances, prayers, etc., how much 
more should a sinner tremble who lives amid pleasures, 


honors, etc.! 

5. The SORITES; that is, when, from several propositions 
or truths announced, one draws a particular conclusion; 
example: Blasphemy brings neither honor nor pleasure; 
why, then, blaspheme ? 

6. The EXAMPLE; when one argues from one case to 
another similar case. 

We here remark that it is always good to vary the forms 
of reasoning by employing now the syllogism, now the 
dilemma, etc., and also by using interrogation, reproach, 

As for the order of PROOFS, some think that it is better 
to begin with the weaker, continue with the stronger, 
and conclude with the strongest. Others, on the con 
trary, and such is my opinion, think it preferable to 
give, in the first place solid reasons, in the last place 
the most decisive, and in the middle the weakest, by 
grouping them together so that thus united they may 
acquire more authority; for by beginning with the weak 
est reasons one might produce a bad impression upon 
some one of the hearers. For the rest the ordinary 
method consists in presenting first the reasons that 
carry conviction, then those that amplify the subject, 
and finally those that are most suitable to touch the 

The TRANSITIONS from one point to another should be 
natural, and should always preserve the unity of the ser 
mon. To mark these passages, the most common forms 
are the following: Let us see, in the second point, etc.; 
After having seen, etc. When passing from one argu 
ment to another, one may say: Add to this; . . . More 
over; . . . So much the more, . . . etc. There are other 
more elegant forms of transition ; for example : by 

1 92 Exercises of the Missions. 

uniting the end of the point or of the reasoning which 
one finishes to the beginning of that which follows. This 
union should be made at least in words if it cannot take 
place in the substance of things. One should take 
care never to pass abruptly from one object to a differ 
ent object. For this purpose one may use the figures 
called Preterition, Concession, etc. 

The AMPLIFICATION of proofs is REAL in reference to 
things, or VERBAL in reference to words: the first tends 
to convince the mind by the development of proofs; the 
second tends to determine the will. 

The REAL amplification may be made by the reunion 
of several things, following this example of the Apostle: 
Serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope : Patient in tribulation : 
Instant in prayer? Or, by GRADATION; example: It is a 
virtue to bear patiently with contempt; a greater virtue, 
to desire it; a virtue that is greater still, to rejoice at it. 
Or, by REASONING, which one does by developing the 
circumstances of the thing. Or, by COMPARISON, which 
one does by comparing the thing with another that is 
reported to be great, to show that that of which one 
speaks is still greater. 

The VERBAL amplification may be made by expressive 
sayings, by epithets and synonymes, and also by meta 
phors and hyperboles. 

But it must be observed that this vain luxury of 
words, of which certain preachers make a display, causes 
the hearers to feel wearied, and serves rather to weaken 
the sermon than to amplify it. We remark, moreover, 
that one should amplify not all that one says, but only 
the principal things. 

What has been said of amplification may also be said 
of ATTENUATION; for, as Quintilian says, he that knows 
how to ascend, knows how to descend. 

1 " Domino servientes, spe gaudentes, in tribulatione patientes, ora- 
tioni instantes." Rom. xii. n. 

Chap. VIL The Sermon. //. The Disposition. 193 

As regards MORAL DIGRESSIONS, we must observe that, 
although the proper place for moral applications is found 
in the peroration, yet it may well be permitted to make 
moral reflections in the course of the sermon by speaking 
especially of a vice or of a virtue, particularly after having 
given sufficient proof; this holds good above all in mission 
sermons. One should always take care that these moral 
applications should not be so long as to form another 
sermon in the sermon itself, nor should they be so 
forced as to appear, as we say, to have been lugged in 
by the head and shoulders, nor so frequent as to render 
the discourse tedious and languid, as happens to some 
who, while relating an example, are too much given to 
making moral digressions. It is indeed permitted to 
make incidentally a moral application, but excess fills 
the hearers with disgust. There is, however, no doubt 
that mission sermons should be more supplied with 
moral reflections; for it is this that makes most impres 
sion on persons that are but little instructed, and that 
form during missions most of the audience. However, 
these moral applications should be appropriate to the 
sermon, and put in a proper place, so as not to weaken 
the force of the proofs. 

III. After the proofs comes the REFUTATION of the ob 
jections. The various modes of REFUTATION are: 

1. NEGATION, by exposing the falsity of the contrary 

2. CONTESTATION, by showing that the proposition 
that one sustains is more probable than that which is 
opposed to it. 

3. ANTICIPATION, by opposing, to the difficulties that 
may be alleged, other more grave difficulties. 

4. CONTEMPT for the contrary reasons, by simply say 
ing that their falsity is evident. 

5. RETORTION, by retorting the opposed argument. 
Regularly, the refutation is put after the proofs; but 


1 94 Exercises of the Missions. 

sometimes it is put immediately after the reason that 
one exposes and that can meet with some difficulty. 


The peroration, or conclusion, contains three parts: 
the epilogue, the moral application, and the exhortation. 

I. The EPILOGUE is only a recapitulation of the ser 
mon. It should be short, so as not to form a new ser 
mon; but it should contain the most convincing reasons 
of the discourse presented in another manner in view of 
the exhortation that is to follow; so that even in this 
recapitulation the preacher begins to move the hearts 
of the hearers. 

II. As for the MORAL APPLICATION, in regard to the 
correction of vices, one must at first be careful to avoid 
wounding particular persons; for such corrections made 
in public serve only to irritate the minds in such a way 
that these persons, seeing themselves thus publicly 
humbled, will conceive a hatred for the preacher and 
even for the mission, and become more and more per 

Moreover, it must be observed that by moral applica 
tion we understand not only reprimands and reproaches 
uttered against vice, but also the pointing out of the 
remedies to be employed to correct one s self, and the 
means to be used to persevere in good conduct. The 
missionaries should, therefore, persuade themselves that 
what is most important and profitable to the people in 
the mission is to teach them practical things, that is, 
remedies against vice and the means to persevere in 
virtue, such as the following: To flee from the occa 
sions, as public houses, dangerous places, bad company. 
To do violence to one s self to control movements to 
anger, to have ready on one s tongue some good words, 
in order to avoid blasphemies and imprecations; for 
example: O Lord! give me patience. O holy Virgin 

Chap. VI L The Sermon. //. The Disposition. 195 

Mary! help me. I beg God to sanctify you. And simi 
lar utterances. To join some confraternity. To hear 
Mass every day. To go to confession every week. To 
make every day a spiritual reading. To make a visit to 
the Blessed Sacrament and also to the Blessed Virgin be 
fore one of her images. Every day, in the morning, to 
renew the good resolution not to offend God by asking 
him for the grace of perseverance; and in the evening, 
to make an examination of conscience with the act of 
contrition. If one falls into some sin, one should hasten 
to make an act of contrition with a firm purpose of 
amendment, and then go to confession as soon as pos 
sible. Above all, to have recourse to God and to the 
Blessed Virgin in temptations by often repeating the 
holy names of Jesus and Mary, and by continuing to in 
voke them until the temptation ceases. 

These remedies and these means the preacher should 
repeat and recommend many times in the course of the 
sermons without allowing himself to be prevented by 
the fear of some learned critic who might reproach him 
for saying always the same thing. The preacher, and 
especially the missionary, must not look for the praise 
of the learned, but for the good pleasure of God and 
the salvation of souls, particularly of the poor ignorant 
people, who come in great numbers to the missions, and 
who derive less profi-t from the opinions and reasonings 
that one makes them hear, than from these easy prac 
tices that one takes care to inculcate on them by repeat 
ing them. I say, "By repeating them;" for the minds 
of these poor people, which are but little cultivated, 
easily forget what one teaches them, if one does not 
take care to repeat it several times, as one knows by ex 

III. The EXHORTATION is one of the most important 
and most necessary parts of the sermon, especially 
during missions; for the profit derived by the hearers 

196 Exercises of the Missions. 

not only consists in convincing themselves of Chris 
tian truths, but also, and above all, in taking the reso 
lution to amend their lives, and in giving themselves to 
God. The missionary should, therefore, not act like 
some who at the end of the sermon begin at once to 
cry out to the people: Ask pardon of God, cry for 
merc y | an d, taking the crucifix, the cords, the torches, 
are satisfied with this clamor, which will produce a 
great deal of noise, but very little fruit. 

To obtain fruit one must study to find out the best 
means of touching the hearers, and of exciting not an 
apparent but a true compunction in their hearts. With 
out doubt, this compunction is the work of the hand of 
God; but the Lord wishes us to co-operate so as to 
make it as perfect as possible. This is the reason why 
it will be useful to speak here specially of the manner 
of moving the heart and of regulating the passions, 
which are the maladies of the soul: they darken the 
mind and weaken the will. Now, what does one need in 
order to subdue one s passions ? One needs the hand 
of God. The preacher should, therefore, for this pur 
pose, count more on the divine help by humbly invoking 
it than on all the eloquence in the world; otherwise his 
hearers will only admire his talent without being con 
verted, like those of whom St. Augustine 2 spoke: " They 
admired, but were not converted." They will say: What 
a good preacher! what a beautiful sermon ! and they 
will continue to slumber in their vices. Moreover, to 
move others, it is of great importance that the preacher 
shows that he himself is penetrated with the truths that 
form the subject of his discourses. 

Human passions are numerous: some belong to the 

1 Practices that were in vogue in some parts of Italy in the time of 
St. Alphonsus. 

2 " Mirabantur, et non convertebantur." 

Chap.VIL The Sermon. If. The Disposition. 197 

CONCUPISCIBLE appetite, others to the IRASCIBLE appetite. 
According to St. Thomas, 1 the first are: 

1. LOVE, which has the good for its object: it is the 
strongest of all the passions. The preacher should 
especially strive by proper motives to inspire the people 
with love for God and for their neighbor: for God, 
because he deserves this love, first on account of his 
goodness, and then on account of his benefits; for 
their neighbor, because God commands this love. 

2. HATRED: one inculcates hatred for sin by showing 
what is its malice, and what injury it causes; one takes 
away hatred for one s neighbor by setting forth how 
pleasing to God and how profitable to our soul is the 
pardon of injuries. 

3. DESIRE, which is a movement of the soul towards 
a distant good. One shows that the goods in this life 
are of little value and of short duration, and that they 
are dangerous to salvation, while the goods of the next 
life are immense and eternal, and alone worthy of our 

4. AVERSION, which is opposed to desire, and makes 
us have a horror of the things that are hurtful to us. 

5. JOY, which is a satisfaction produced by the posses 
sion of good. It is very useful, among other things, to 
set forth the peace that the grace of God brings to him 
that possesses it. 

6. SADNESS, or grief, which is a pain that one feels at 
a present evil. One shows the pain that remorse of 
conscience causes sinners. 

The following are the passions that belong to the 
IRASCIBLE appetite: 

1. HOPE, which is a movement towards a distant but 
possible good. 

2. DESPAIR, which is the contrary ; one tries to per- 

1 I. 2. q. 23. a. 4. 

198 Exercises of the Missions. 

suade the hearers that it is impossible to find happiness 
in the goods of this world. 

3. FEAR, which is a movement born of the apprehen 
sion of future evil. . 

4. AUDACITY, which is a movement that gives one 
strength not to fear the obstacles in the way of acquir 
ing a desired good. 

5. ANGER, which is a movement that leads to revenge. 
This passion may excite the love of penance in the sin 
ner, who will wish to chastise his body by which he has 
offended God; for according to St. Augustine, the true 
penitent is a man justly angry with himself. 

We must remark that in general one should in this 
exhortation guard against being too long; otherwise, 
one shall lose more than one gains. 


After having treated of the disposition of the parts, 
we must speak of the means and the methods suitable 
for rendering the discourse capable of convincing the 
understanding and determining the will. 

Good elocution requires the concurrence of three 
things, namely, elegance, composition, and dignity. 

I. ELEGANCE results from clearness and proper expres 
sions, by avoiding new or antiquated, affected, or vulgar 
terms. It must be understood that eloquence consists 
in expressing the idea that one has conceived, and in 
making the hearers seize it with the same vividness with 
which it has been conceived. 

II. COMPOSITION is the harmony of the discourse 
which is obtained from the good arrangement of 
periods and from their number expressed in suitable 
words. The period is a phrase composed of several 
parts, united with one another^ to render entire the 

Chap. VII. 77/6 Sermon. -///. Elocution. 199 

idea that one wishes to express; the principal parts are 
called Members and the others Incidental. We dis 
tinguish three kinds of periods: the concise, the round, 
and the composite. 

1. The CONCISE period, which is the shortest, should 
have at least two members, but not more than four. It 
has three qualities, but these are not always found to 
gether, namely, equality in the number of words, the 
harmonious correspondence between both members, and 
the opposition between the two, as in this text: For you 
were heretofore darkness; but now light in the Lord. 1 

2. The ROUND period that of which the parts form a 
harmonious union of sentences, of thought, and of words, 
to express a complete sense. One should therein avoid 
superfluous vowels and consonants, as well as repetition 
of the same words, or words formed of the same letters 
by having the same quantity of syllables, as also turns 
that represent the measure and cadence of verse. 

3. The COMPOSITE period, finally, is that which is 
formed of several round or concise periods. 

III. The DIGNITY of elocution results from the use of 
tropes and of figures, of which we shall speak farther on. 

First of all, we must remind young preachers that 
what is said of periods rounded and composed of 
sonorous words, belongs properly to discourses pro 
nounced in academies and in secular assemblies, but 
not to those that one pronounces in the churches. I 
know that there are orators who pretend that this is 
necessary even in sacred discourses in order to attract 
the people and to induce them to hear the divine word; 
but I also know that St. Paul protested against it when 
he said: I came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom. . . . 
And my speech and my preaching was not in the persuasive 
words of human wisdom, but in shoiuing of [he spirit and 
" Eratis enim aliquando tenebrje, nunc autem lux in Domino." 

2oo Exercises of the Missions. 

power I also say that men of zeal and of charity do 
not go in search of choice expressions or of harmonious 
periods; they try to find the most efficacious method to 
deliver souls from hell and to persuade them to love 
God. I grant that preachers who attract the people by 
the charm of florid discourses have many hearers; but 
where is the fruit that they derive ? Who, after having 
heard them, go to confession with compunction, moved 
by those ingenious descriptions and those rounded 
periods, in a word, by those flowers and those leaves, of 
which the sermon is composed ? Origen, 2 comparing 
such preachers to women, says that the latter by their 
vanities succeed in pleasing men but do not please God, 
and their souls are without fruit. A sick man, as Seneca * 
remarks, does not ask for a physician that speaks well, 
but for one that is able to cure him. What good, he 
would say to him, will your fine discourses do me when 
iron and water must be employed to cure me? St. 
Jerome, 4 writing to Nepotian, gave him this advice : 
"When you teach in the church, not the clamor (viva! 
viva :) of the people should be excited, but the tears of 
the hearers will be your best praise." 

Vain preachers may win the praises of some among 
the learned men, but they will bring no profit to any 
one. I say, " Of some ;" for, whatever may be the 
trouble that one takes, one hardly succeeds in making 

1 " Veni non in sublimitate sermonis aut sapientiae. . . . Sermo meus 
et praedicatio mea, non in persuasibilibus humanae sapientiae verbis, sed 
in ostensione spiritus et virtutis. " I Cor. ij. I. 

2 " Effeminatae quippe sunt eorum magistrorum animae, qui semper 
sonantia componunt, et nihil virile, nihil Deo dignum est in iis qui 
juxta voluntatem audientium praedicant." In Ezech. horn. 3. 

3 " Non quserit aeger medicum eloquentem, sed sanantem. Quid 
oblectas? Aliud agitur: urendus, secandus sum; ad haec adhibitus es." 
Epist. 15. 

4 " Docente te in ecclesia, non clamor populi, sed gemitus excitetur, 
lacrymorum auditorum laudes tui sint." Ad Nepot. de Vita Cler. 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. III. Elocution. 201 

one of those florid discourses in which the learned do 
not find now this, now that, to criticise. Such is then 
the folly of these orators who preach themselves instead 
of preaching Jesus Christ; they do all that they can in 
order to gain a vain approbation, and they do not even 
know how they may obtain it from every one. He who, 
on the other hand, wishes to preach Jesus crucified is 
always sure of success in his work, since he thereby 
pleases God; this should be the end of all our actions. 

Oh, would to God that there were banished from the 
church such a vain mode of preaching ! It is certain 
that if all preachers spoke in a simple and in an apos 
tolic manner one would see the world changed. " Chris 
tian preaching," says St. Ambrose, " does not need pomp 
and cultured discourse ; therefore fishermen, unedu 
cated men, were chosen to preach the Gospel." 1 The 
Apostle, speaking of those that preach with pomp, 
speaks of them as adulterating the word of God? Oh how 
expressive is this word adulterating! This is what St. 
Gregory well explains in the following passage: " The 
perverse man who serves vainglory is rightly said to 
adulterate the word of God, because by sacred eloquence 
he desires not to gain children to God, but to show his 
own science, and he devotes himself rather to his own 
pleasure than to the generation of spiritual children."" 

Sermons preached with vanity serve only to render 
proud him who preaches, to make him who listens lose 
time, and what is worse, to enervate the word of God; 
for the florid style takes from the eternal truths the 

" Praedicatio Christiana non indiget pompa et cultu sermonis; 
idcoque piscatores, homines imperiti, electi sunt, qui evangelizarent." 
In I Cor. \. 

" Adulterantes verbum Dei." 2 Cor. ii. 17. 

3 " Perversus quisquis, ac vanae glorioe serviens, recte adulterari 
verbum Dei dicitur, quia, per sacrum eloquium, non Deo filios gignere, 
sed suam scientiam desiderat ostentare, et voluptati magis, quam 
generation!, operani impendit." /1/w. 1. 16, c. 28. 

2O2 Exercises of the Missions. 

force that they have in themselves, as is said by St. 
Prosper or some other ancient author: "A sermon pur 
posely cultured enervates the vivacity of the sentences." l 
Hence St. Paul thus declares: For Christ sent vie . . . to 
preach the Gospel : not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of 
Christ should be made void. 3 On this text St. John Chry- 
sostom has written: " Some bestow labor upon external 
wisdom; he (Paul) shows that it not only does not help 
the cross, but it even destroys it;" so that the refinement 
of thoughts and elegance of expressions destroy, so to 
speak, the fruit of the Redemption wrought by Jesus 
Christ. 3 

Oh what a fearful account will those orators have to 
render to God at their death for having preached with 
vanity! St. Bridget 4 saw the soul of a religious damned 
for having preached in this manner; and the Lord after 
wards declared to the saint that through the organ of 
vain preachers it is not he that speaks, but the devil. 
A still more terrible example is that which is related by 
Father Cajetan Maria of Bergamo, a Capuchin, in his 
book entitled " The Apostolic Man in the Pulpit." He 
says that a preacher of his Order related to him the fol 
lowing occurrence that happened to him a few years 
before: When still a young man and a lover of belles- 
lettres, he had preached with a vain eloquence in the 
cathedral of Brescia; but returning thither a fe\v years 
afterwards, he spoke in a manner entirely apostolic. 
When asked the cause of this change, he answered: I 
knew a celebrated preacher, who was a religious and my 
friend, and had, like myself, a liking for vain eloquence. 

1 " Sententiarum vivacitatem sermo cultus ex industria enervat." 

2 " Misit me Christus . . . evangelizare, non in sapientia verbi, ut 
non evacuetur crux Christi." i Cor. \. 17. 

3 " Alii externae sapientiae operam clabant ; ostendit (Paulus) earn. 
non solun cruci non opem ferre, sed etiam earn exinanire." 

4 Rev. 1. 6, c. 35. 

Chap. VII. TJie Sermon. ///. Elocution. 203 

At the hour of death it was not possible to persuade 
him to make his confession. I went to him myself and 
spoke earnestly to him; but he only stared at me with 
out saying a word. Then the Superior conceived the 
thought of having the Blessed Sacrament taken to his 
cell so as to touch him and induce him to receive holy 
Communion. The ciborium was brought, and those 
present said to the sick man: " Here is Jesus Christ, who 
has come to pardon you." But he cried out in a voice 
of despair: " It is this God whose holy word I have be 
trayed!" Then we all occupied ourselves, some with 
praying to the Lord to have mercy upon him, and others 
with begging the dying man to trust in God s mercy; 
but he began again to cry out with still greater force: 
"It is this God whose holy word I have betrayed!" 
Then he added: " There is no longer any mercy for me!" 
We continued to encourage him, but he cried out a third 
time: " It is this God whose holy word I have betrayed!" 
Then he said: " By a just judgment of God I am 
damned!" And immediately after he expired. The 
Father concluded by saying that this event had deter 
mined him to change his manner of preaching. 

At least in purgatory the Lord will not fail to punish 
all these vanities that one shows in preaching. It is re 
lated of Father Francis dell Aredo, who converted a 
great number of souls, that after his death he appeared 
to his confessor, and said that he had to spend several 
days in purgatory on account of some florid sermons 
that he had preached in his youth. This example is 
cited by Father Nadasi, and here is another which he 
also quotes: While a Father of the Society of Jesus, 
Rector of the college at Maiorica, was preaching a very 
elegant sermon, our Lord said to the Venerable Alphon- 
sus Rodriguez: "Your Rector will have to pay up for 
this sermon by the fire of purgatory." 

It is certain that all the .vanities shown in the pulpit 

204 Exercises of the Missions. 

and all the applause received are not what gives con 
fidence when one is dying. Several persons worthy of 
belief have assured me that a celebrated preacher of our 
time who preached in this manner with the applause of 
crowds of people, finding himself near death, ordered 
all his writings to be burnt. Moreover, it has been told 
me of the same preacher, that hearing on one occasion 
eulogies addressed to him on account of his pompous 
discourses, he answered: "These discourses will one 
day be the cause of my condemnation." 

We should note what Muratori says in speaking of 
panegyrics in his book entitled Christian Charity. Here 
is what he says: "Ah! why so many panegyrics, which 
often end in a vain mental pomp, in far-fetched subtil- 
ties of a brain filled with self-love, which are be 
yond the comprehension of most people ? ... If the 
panegyric is to be profitiible, it should be given with 
that popular and intelligible eloquence which enlight 
ens and touches not only the ignorant, but also the 
learned. But this kind of eloquence is not always well 
known by him who imagines himself more learned than 
others." Seneca, writing to Lucillus, says that the ora 
tor should be more attentive to things than to expres 
sions; then he adds, that the orator gives a bad idea of 
himself when he shows himself fond of such a trifling 
thing as the adorning of his discourse with leaves and 
flowers. 1 So spoke a pagan; how much more should a 
Christian speak in like manner! 

But some one will say, What do you wish? do you 
wish that all the sermons should be mission sermons? 
I answer by asking what one understands by mission 
sermons: if one understands sermons made at random 
and negligently, without following any rule and without 

"Quaere quid scribas, non quemadmodum. . . . Cujuscumque 
orationem videris sollicitam et politam, scito animum esse pusillis 
occupatum " Epist. 115. 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. ///. Elocution. 205 

order, I condemn, as every one does, such sermons. 
But if one understands sermons made after the apostolic 
fashion, in a simple style, within the comprehension of 
the people who make up the audience, I have already 
cited elsewhere 1 what has been written on this point in 
his golden book, Popular Eloquence, by the above-men 
tioned Muratori, who has certainly held and still holds 
to-day a distinguished place among the first literary 
men of Europe. He says that when one preaches to an 
audience in which are found not only the learned, but 
also the uninstructed, who ordinarily form the greater 
part, it is expedient to preach in a simple and popular 
style; for this kind of preaching will profit the common 
people, and the learned, if they do not find the charm 
of diction, will nevertheless draw more fruit by seeing 
themselves enlightened and impelled to devote them 
selves more to the good of their souls. Moreover, one 
admits that before an audience composed of people who 
are well instructed, the preacher should use more choice 
language. But to apply one s self to interweaving the 
sermon with flowers and leaves, that is, with learned 
researches, subtle and lofty reflections, pompous de 
scriptions, choice terms and sonorous periods all this 
is not suitable for the pulpit; for God does not co 
operate with the success of such sermons; and without 
God s co-operation, what fruit can one ever hope to de 
rive ? Pastors of souls should, above all, guard against 
such vanities; for preaching by virtue of their office and 
their duty they are bound by a strict obligation to make 
themselves understood by all the members of their flock. 
.Besides, I also admit that Lenten sermons should be 
different from mission sermons; however, when an audi 
ence is composed mostly of people that are but little in 
structed, Muratori teaches, as has been said, that all the 

1 DIGNITY AND DUTIES OK THE PRIEST, Part II., Instr. iv. (Volume 
XII.. ougc 269). LETTER TO A RELIGIOUS, in this volume, page 17. 

206 Exercises of the Missions. 

sermons should be simple and popular in order that one 
may derive fruit therefrom, and have the consolation 
that the hearers will go to confession after the sermon. 
I remember that when Father Vittelleschi preached in 
this simple way at Naples, not only was the church 
filled, but the confessionals were besieged by a crowd 
of persons who wished to go to confession. And as for 
the Lenten sermons, which are given in the country, 
where nearly the whole audience is composed of poor 
villagers, one should use, as Muratori expressly says, 
the simplest and commonest possible words in order to 
adapt the discourse to the gross intelligence of the 
hearers. At least, I would wish the preachers who go 
through the country, and do not care about changing 
the lofty style of their sermons, to give during the last 
week, in the evening, when the people return from the 
fields, the spiritual exercises in the form of a mission. I 
assure them that they will produce more fruit by these 
familiar exercises than by a hundred Lenten sermons. 

However, as for the Lenten sermons, it is a consola 
tion for me to know that even in great cities like Na 
ples, this foolish and, so to speak, barbarous style, which 
was in use in the last century, has been rejected ; at 
present priests commonly preach in a familiar and an 
easy style, and I am glad of that. On the other hand, 
I regret to hear that on the missions some young preach 
ers have introduced the use of the florid style; and I am 
astonished that the Superiors permit such subjects, who 
boast of being called missionaries, to preach in this 
fashion. In every sermon the missionary should preach 
as a missionary. One of our young subjects, while 
preaching one day a sermon on the Blessed Virgin, used 
a lofty and polished style; not only did I make him 
come down at once from the pulpit, but I forbade him 
to say Mass for three days. 

The missionary, I say, should always preach as a mis- 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. ///. Elocution. 207 

sionary, but especially during the missions; otherwise 
he will have to render a twofold account to God, either 
on account of the little fruit which he derives from the 
sermons, or on account of the bad example which he 
gives to others by departing from the mission style, 
which should be entirely simple and popular. I do not 
contend, as I have said above, that the mission. sermons 
should not be composed with the order that is suitable 
to them according to the rules of the oratorical art, and 
even with the use, wherever necessary, of tropes and 
of figures, of which we will afterwards speak; but as 
Muratori says, all this should be arranged with sim 
plicity, without the appearance of being so arranged; 
for mission sermons should be composed of easy teach 
ings, of suitable applications, and of Christian practices. 
This is to break the bread, as God requires of all 
preachers, and especially of missionaries: Deal thy bread 
to the hungry. 1 

I beg my reader to make with me the following 

My Lord Jesus Christ, Thou who, to save souls, hast 
given Thy life, deign to enlighten and animate so many 
priests who could convert many sinners and sanctify the 
world if they preached Thy word without vanity and 
with simplicity, as Thou hast preached it Thyself and 
Thy disciples have followed Thy example. These 
priests, however, act otherwise: they preach themselves; 
and thence it happens that although the world is full of 
preachers, yet hell is filled with lost souls. O Lord! 
remedy this great evil, which afflicts Thy Church 
through the fault of preachers. 


A trope is the employment of a word or a phrase in a 
signification different from its own on account of some 
" Frange esurienti panem." Is. Iviii. 7 

208 Exercises of the Missions. 

resemblance. Tropes differ from figures in this, that 
they apply to words a sense other than their natural 
sense; this is not the case with figures, as we shall see 
later on. There are six principal tropes: metaphor, 
allegory, "irony, hyperbole, antonomasia, and metonymy. 

1. A METAPHOR is the transfer of a word to a sense that 
does not belong to it; it suffices for a metaphor that 
there be some resemblance among the things. It is thus, 
for example, that the priests are called the light of the 
world and the salt of the earth. The transfer may be 
made from an animate thing to an inanimate, and con 
versely. The use of metaphors should not be frequent; 
and they should not be obscure, or taken from objects 
either too sublime or too common. 

2. An ALLEGORY is a continued metaphor, as when one 
says that Jesus Christ is the vine and we are the 
branches; that the branches united to the vine produce 
fruit, while those that are separated from it can only 
be thrown into the fire. 

3. IRONY is when one says the contrary of what one 
wishes others to understand. It is necessary, especially 
in speaking of God, that irony be clearly apprehended 
by the hearers, and that they understand it in its ironi 
cal sense. 

4. HYPERBOLE consists in exaggerating or diminishing 
the expression of a thing beyond measure for fear of not 
saying enough, as when God says to Abraham: Twill 
multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven. The use of the 
hyperbole should be rare. 

5. ANTONOMASIA is when, instead of the proper name, 
we give to a subject another name to express what is 
good or what is bad in the subject; as when Lucifer is 
called "the Proud" or "the Dragon." Antonomasia 
may be used in four ways: (i) by attributing specially 
to some one a name common to several, as when St. 

1 Multiplicabo semen tuum sicut Stellas cceli." Gen. xxii. 17. 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. ///. Elocution. 209 

Paul is called by way of eminence " the Apostle," and St. 
John "the well-beloved Disciple;" (2) by giving to 
some one for a name the title that designates a particular 
function, as when a lover of feasting is called "a Gour 
mand;" (3) by taking the name of the place, as when 
St. Augustine is called "the Doctor of Hippo;" (4) by 
forming the name from remarkable deeds, as when St. 
Francis Xavier is called " the Apostle of the Indies." 

6. METONYMY, by which one names an object for an 
other on account of the natural bond that unites them; 
it is thus that one names the cause for the effect, and 
conversely, the container for the contained, the sub 
ject for the attribute, as in the following examples: i. 
They have Moses and the prophets : we understand thereby 
the books of Moses and the prophets; 2. Death is in the 
pot ;" we take the vessel instead of the poisonous herbs 
that it contains, or death instead of these same herbs 
that caused it; 3. My son.give Me thy heart ;* God is ask 
ing a man for his heart, asks of him his love, which has 
its seat in the heart. 


The Figure is an ornament of words or of thought, 
which elevates the discourse above ordinary language. 
We shall at first speak of the figures of WORDS, and then 
of the figures of THOUGHT. 


Figures of words are produced in three ways by 
addition, by subtraction, or by similitude. 
I. Figures by ADDITION are the following: 
i. ANAPHORA, which consists in repeating the same 
word at the beginning of several phrases or various 
members of a period; it is thus that St. Ambrose, speak- 

" Habent Moysen et Prophetas." Luke, xvi. 29. 

" Mors in olla. " 4 Kings, iv. 40. 

" Praebe, fill mi, cor tuum mihi." Prov. xxiii. 26. 

2 1 o Exercises of the Missions. 

ing of Debora, says: " A woman judged, a woman dis 
posed, a woman prophesied, a woman triumphed." 1 

2. EPIPHORA, by which one repeats the same words, 
not at the beginning but at the end of the phrases, as in 
the text of St. Paul: They arc Hebrews, so am I : They are 
Israelites, so am I : They are the seed of Abraham, so am I? 

3. SYMPLOCE, or COMPLICATION, which is done by 
uniting the anaphora and the epiphora. 

4. ANADIPLOSIS, or CONDUPLICATION, which consists in 
repeating one word or several words of the phrase that 
precedes; such as this passage of St. Gregory: "What 
do we admire, brethren? Mary coming or receiving 
the Lord? May I say receiving or attracting? but I 
should rather say attracting and receiving." 3 When we 
repeat the word immediately, the figure is called EPI- 
ZEUXIS; example: Be comforted, be comforted, My people." 
But when one repeats the last word of the phrase, the 
figure is confounded with the anadiplosis; example: 
Our feet were standing in Thy courts, O Jerusalem, Jeru 
salem which is built like a city? And when the word that 
begins a phrase is repeated at the end of the following 
phrase, it is called EPANALEPSIS; thus: O God, who shall be 
like to Thee ? 6 hold not Thy peace, neither be Thou still, O God. 

5. POLYPTOTON, or TRADITION, when a word is repeated 
in different cases and at different times; thus St. Paul: 
Now I make known unto you, brethren, the Gospel which I 

1 " Femina judicavit, femina disposuit, femina prophetavit, femina 
triumphavit." De Viduis. 

2 Hebrsei sunt, et ego; Israelitse sunt, et ego; semen Abrahae sunt, 
et ego." 2 Cor. xi. 22. 

3 "Quid miramur, fratres? Mariam venientem, an Dominum susci- 
pientem ? Suscipientem dicam, an trahentem ? sed melius dicam tra- 
hentem et suscipientem." In Evang, hofn. 33. 

4 " Consolamini, consolamini, popule meus." Is. xl. i. 

5 Stantes erant pedes nostri in atriis tuis Jerusalem : Jerusalem, 
quse fedificatur ut civitas." Ps. cxxi. 2. 

6 " Deus, quis similis erit tibi? ne taceas,neque compescaris, Deus." 
Ps. Ixxxii. 2. 

Chap. I Y/. The Sermon. ///. Elocution. 2 1 1 

preached to you, which also you have received and wherein 
you stand, by which also you arc saved. 1 

6. CLIMAX, or GRADATION, when the last word of the 
phrase that precedes becomes the first of the following, 
and when one thus advances by degrees from phrase to 
phrase, as the Apostle in this passage: Tribulation work- 
cth patience j and patience trial, and trial hope ; and hope 
confoitndeth not? 

II. Figures by SUBTRACTION are the following: 

several words or phrases follow without a conjunction, as 
in this passage of Salvian when speaking of the penitent 
David: " He took off his garments, laid aside his purple, 
removed his diadem; he is changed in appearance and 
in heart." 3 

2. SYNECDOCHE, or COMPREHENSION, when one admits 
in the discourse some word that is implicitly understood, 
as when one puts the part for the whole, or the whole 
for a part; example: I will visit tJie evils of the world? 
By the word world we here understand Babylon. 

one suppresses something in the discourse, but in such 
a manner as to leave understood what one does not say. 
Thus David says: And my soul is troubled exceedingly ; but 
Thou, O Lord, how long ? 5 This, according to St. Thomas, 
means: " How long wilt thou delay to come to my 
assistance, so that I may rise?" 6 

" Notum autem vobis facio, fratres, Evangelium quod praedicavi 
vobis, quod et accepistis, in quo et statis, per quod et salvamini." 
I Cor. xv. i. 

" Tribulatio patientiam operatur, patientia autem probationem, 
probatio vero spem; spes autem non confundit." Rom. v. 3. 

3 Indumenta deponit, purpura exuitur, diademate exhonoratur, cultu 
et corde mutatur. " De Gubcrn. Dei, 1. 2. 

4 " Visitabo super orbis mala." Is. xiii. n. 

" Anima mea turbata est valde; sed tu, Domine, usquequo ?" Ps. 
vi. 4. 

" Usquequo non exaudies, et non dabis auxilium, ut resurgam ?" 

2 1 2 Exercises of the Missions. 

4. ZEUGMA, or ADJUNCTION, when one refers several 
subjects to one and the same verb; thus St. Paul: Let 
all bitterness and anger, and indignation and clamor, and 
blasphemy be put away from you, with all malice. 1 

III. Figures by SIMILITUDE are the following: 

when one repeats the same word with some modification 
to signify another thing; it is thus that St. Augustine 
has said, in speaking of the Publican: Quid miraris, si 
Deus ignoscit, quando ipse se agnoscit t * And St. Ambrose: 
Flue t us est quidam mar is, non fructus? 

2. HOMCEOPTOTON, or in Latin, Similiter cadens (similar 
case-endings), occurs when several phrases or several 
members of a period terminate by words in the same 
case, as in this text of Isaias: Qucerite Judiciu m : subvenite 
oppresso, judicate pupillo? 

3. HOMCEOTELEUTON, or in Latin, Similiter desinens (like 
ending), occurs when several phrases or several mem 
bers of a period terminate in the same manner, or in 
verbs with the same ending; such is the passage from 
St. John Chrysostom: Considera pactu?n quod spopondisti, 
conditionem qua accessisti, -militiam cut nomen dedisti? 

4. ISOCOLON, or in Latin, Compar, exists when the mem 
bers of a period are nearly equal in the number of syl 
lables; thus Isaias: Occidere vitulos et jugular e arietes, co- 
medere car ties et bibere vinum* 

5. EPANORTHOSIS, or CORRECTION, when one feigns to 
correct or to retract an expression, by replacing it by 
another that is more proper; thus, St. Augustine: Magna 
pietas, quod .thesaurizat pater filiis ; immo magna vanitas : 
thesaurizat moriturus morituris? 

6. ANTITHESIS, or OPPOSITION, when several terms are 

1 " Omnis amaritudo, et ira, et indignatio, et clamor, et blasphemia, 
tollatur a vobis." Ephes. iv. 31. 

2 Serm. 115, n. 2, E. B. 3 De Tobia, c. ?. 

4 Is. i. 17. 5 De Martyr, s. 2. 

6 Is. xxii. 13. 7 Serm. 60, n. 3, E. B. 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. ///. Elocution. 213 

opposed to one another in a period, as in this passage of 
St. Paul: By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good re 
port, as deceivers and yet true. 


Among the figures of thought some serve to teach, 
some to please, and others to move. 

I. Those that serve to TEACH, are the following: 



We have spoken above of these two figures when treat 
ing of the common, intrinsic places or topics. 2 

3. PROLEPSIS, or ANTICIPATION, when the orator antici 
pates the objection and refutes it. 

4. PAROMOLOGY, or CONCESSION, when one grants some 
thing to opponents, in order to obtain what one desires 
and something more; thus St. Augustine: "If you wish 
to sin, seek a place where God does not see you, and do 
what you wish." 3 

5. HYPOMONE, or SUSPENSION, when one excites the 
curiosity of the hearers and keeps them for some time 
in suspense. 

6. PARALEIPSIS, or PRETERITION, when one briefly says 
what one declares one wishes to pass over in silence; 
thus St. Augustine: Omitto dicere quia forte, dum vivis, 
thesaurizas furi* 

7. PARADOX, when one ascribes to the same subject 
attributes that seem irreconcilable, and are yet true in 
fact ; thus Origen : Audi ineffabile paradoxiun : per non 
factum, sed gentium, omnia facta, sed non genita. 

II. The figures that serve to PLEASE are the following: 
i. APOSTROPHE, or CONVERSION, when the orator, show 
ing emotion, addresses mountains, animals, or absent 

" Per gloriam et ignobilitatem, per infamiam et bonam famam, ut 
seductores et veraces." 2 Cor. vi. 8. 

* Page 180. 3 Serm. 132, n. 2, . B. 4 Serm. 60, n. 4, E. B. 

214 Exercises of the A fissions. 

2. HYPOTYPOSIS, or DESCRIPTION, when one describes 
things in lively colors. 

3. PROSOPOPOEIA, when one introduces into the dis 
course either a dead, absent, or fictitious person, or an 
inanimate thing, and makes them speak or act. One 
must take care to adapt the language to the thing or to 
the person; one should not make a king speak as a ple- 

4. PERIPHRASE, or CIRCUMLOCUTION, a term that one 
uses to express in a longer way, but more suitable, what 
one does not wish to say in proper words. 

5. DIALOGISM, when one makes one or several persons 
speak among themselves or with others; such is the 
monologue of the prodigal son in St. Luke: How many 
hired servants in my father s house abound with bread, and 
here I perish with hunger ! l 

III. The figures that serve to MOVE are the following: 

1. EROTESIS, or INTERROGATION, when one addresses 
some one : either to show compassion, as when God 
called Adam after his sin and said to him: Where art 
thou ?"* or to complain ; for example : If I be a master, 
where is my fear I* or to reprove, as the Lord, speaking 
to his people: What iniquity have your fathers found in 
Me, that they are gone far from Me . . . ? 4 

2. ANTIPHORA, or SUBJECTION, when to a question ad 
dressed to one s self one adds the answer; thus St. 
Augustine: " Tell me for whom are you hoarding riches ? 
For myself, you say." 5 

3. EPHONESIS, or EXCLAMATION, when one raises the 
voice to excite fear or some other emotion; for example: 

1 " Quanti mercenarii in domo patris mei abundant panibus, ego 
autem hie fame pereo !" Luke, xv. 17. 
a " Ubi es?" Gen. iii. 9. 

3 Si Dominus ego sum, ubi est timor meus?" Mai. i. 6. 

4 Jer. ii. 5. 

5 " Die cui thesaurizas ? Mihi, inquis ?" Serin. 60, n. 3, E. B. 

C/iap. VII. The Sermon. IV* Memory, etc. 215 

O folly of sinners, to lead an unhappy life upon earth in 
order to lead a still more unhappy life in hell ! 

4. EPIPHONEMA, a sententious exclamation by which 
one finishes an interesting recital; thus after having 
related the deed of a young idolater who, while present 
at a sacrifice offered by Alexander, preferred to ruive his 
hand burn rather than to disturb the ceremony, Tertul- 
lian adds: "So great was in this pagan youth the rever 
ence for discipline that he conquered nature I" 1 

5. APORIA, or DOUBT, when the orator is at a loss what 
course to pursue. 

6. PARRHESIA, or LICENSE, LIBERTY, when the orator 
freely makes known some truth without fear of re 

7. DEPRECATION, when, after having moved the minds 
of the hearers by reason, one begs them to put in exe 
cution what one has said. 

8. COMMISERATION, when one shows compassion for 
the misfortune of others. 

9. REPREHENSION, when one reproves the hearers; this 
one should never do in words that irritate. 

Memory, Pronunciation, and Gesture. 

I. As for the MEMORY, but little is to be said; for 
memory is a gift of nature, and is perfected according 
as one cultivates it by continual practice. It is, how 
ever, very useful, in order to render the memory local, 
to mark the points of the sermon, and the beginnings of 
sentences and of arguments, or at least of the longer 
periods with letters larger than usual, and with addi 
tional numbers. 

It is also useful to make an abridgment of t-he sermon 
by indicating in a brief and distinct manner the begin- 

1 Tanta in puero barbaro fuit disciplina reverentiae, ut naturam 
vinccret !" 

2 1 6 Exercises of the Missions. 

nings, as has been just said, of the periods, of the sen 
tences, etc.; this may at least be of service to the 
preacher, who, if he should forget some part of the ser 
mon, can remember the part that follows, and thus free 
himself from an embarrassment which, as has happened 
to many, might oblige him to come down from the 

II. As for PRONUNCIATION, as one expresses things by 
words, one should express the different sentiments of 
the soul by the modification of the voice : the preacher 
should speak, now by raising the voice, now by lower 
ing it ; now quickly, now more slowly; now with dig 
nity, as when he quotes the words of Scripture; now 
with severity, and now with gentleness and feeling. In 
this many fail to such an extent that they annoy and 
weary the hearers, by adopting a kind of sing-song; by 
dragging the voice in the articulation of words ; by 
being precipitate in their delivery; by excessively rais 
ing or lowering their voice; or by suddenly passing from 
a high to a too low tone of voice. 

Without doubt, in order to captivate the .attention of 
the hearers, to impress better on their minds the things 
that one preaches, especially in mission sermons, it is 
very useful to vary the tone of voice; for a monotonous 
discourse gives but little prominence to the things that 
are said, and that should be expressed with more or less 
warmth or gentleness. Nevertheless, immediate transi 
tions from one tone to .another always cause disorder 
and trouble. Ordinarily, the exordium should be pro 
nounced in a moderate and grave tone; for the proposi 
tion and the division of the points, the voice is raised 
and becomes more distinct; in the proofs, it is modified 
conformably to the quality of the things that one says. 
Arrived at the peroration, or the final exhortation, the 
preacher should show himself moved in order to move 
the hearers by speaking to them in such a manner as to 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. IV. Memory, etc. 2 1 7 

excite in them the passion with which he wishes to pene 
trate them; for example; anger and hatred require an 
impetuous tone ; hope and love, a gentle voice ; joy, a 
jubilant tone; grief, a plaintive voice, broken by groans 
and sighs. On missions, in the moral applications, the 
voice should be raised, especially when one speaks 
against vice. 

On missions it has been the custom to use a THIRD 
TONE,* which consists in pronouncing the words in a 
loud voice by prolonging the last syllable but one, es 
pecially in the last words of the members of a period. 
It is expedient to employ this means from time to time 
when it is suitable; for example, when there is question 
of threats, complaints, or chastisements, etc. I said : 
" From time to time;" for if one uses this third tone too 
often, as some do, one ends in producing no longer any 
impression, and one even gives annoyance, the ear of 
the hearers becoming accustomed to it. 

III. As for GESTURE, one should avoid gestures that 
are affected or too uniform, that are always the same, or 
so impetuous as to give to the body an excessive agitation 
by moving inordinately the hands, the head, or the eyes. 

The gestures of the hands should be grave. It is ordi 
narily the right hand that makes the gestures; one uses 
the left hand only to point out objects placed at its side, 
or things that are separated or opposed to one another. 
One should not raise the hand higher than the head, 
nor extend it too much, nor hold it too short, or only 
before one s breast. In the exordium, however, at the 
first period, one should not make any gesture; it is only 
at the second period that one may begin to move the 
hands, which during the whole exordium should be 
moved but little, and it would be better for one to 
remain always standing in the middle of the pulpit.** 

* This is hardly known outside of Italy. ED. 

** The pulpits in Italy are more or less wide in extent; this enables 
the preacher to move several steps to the right or to the left. ED. 

2 1 8 Exercises of the Missions. 

While the right hand is raised, the left, if it is not moved, 
rests on the pulpit, and not on the breast. One should 
avoid putting the hands on the hips or on the back, 
raising them in the form of a cross, striking them to 
gether, or striking the pulpit; which should be done but 
rarely. Moreover, one should guard against taking off 
the surplice and casting it at one s feet, or making with 
the body any other improper movement ; for by the 
name of gesture one understands not only the move 
ment of the hands, but also that of every part of the 
body, and especially of the head and eyes. 

The movement of the head should be regulated by 
the movement of the hand by turning the head in the 
same direction, except when the preacher desires to 
excite in the hearers a horror of something, and in this 
case it is proper to turn the head in the opposite direc 
tion. It is a fault to turn violently the head, to shake 
it too much, always to keep it erect, or bent, or often 
inclined on the breast, or always in the same attitude. 

As for the eyes, it is a fault to keep them closed, or 
always cast down, or always fixed on one side, especially 
on the side where the women are, as if one made more 
of one part of the hearers than of the other. The eyes 
should, moreover, accompany the movement of the head. 
The expression of the countenance should be varied ac 
cording to the subject by expressing therein, for example, 
sadness in things that are sad, such as terrible things, or 
grievous sins, gravity in things that are grave, and joy 
in things that are joyous. 

Finally, every posture should be modest. One may 
sit down, but only sometimes. One may also pass from 
one side of the pulpit to the other, but without precipi 
tation. Ordinarily, it is proper to remain in the middle 
of the pulpit in order to be understood by all; it is, how 
ever, good to turn from time to time, now towards the 
right, now towards the left, but without going so far as 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. V. Instructions. 219 

to turn one s back to the opposite side. It is also a de 
fect to make contortions, or to incline the body too much 
over the pulpit. In a word, the preacher represents Jesus 
Christ, of whom he is the organ ; hence the language, 
the gestures, everything, should be grave, as is befitting 
a minister of Jesus Christ. 

It must also be here remarked, that when one takes in 
one s hand the crucifix, one should not wave it as if it 
were a banner, as some are accustomed to do; it should 
be taken and held with gravity and respect. 

Special Instructions in regard to Mission Sermons. 

We have already spoken of several things that are to 
be observed in mission sermons; but it will be well to 
reunite here in an abridged form the principal instruc 
tions, in order that the missionary may have them all 
united before him. Besides, we shall also indicate here 
the different other things that refer only to the manner 
of preaching during the missions. 


Mission sermons should have fewer .Latin texts. If 
we examine the sermons of the Venerable Paul Segneri, 
a great master in the art of preaching, we shall find few 
Latin passages, but many practical reflections and moral 
applications. The quotations from Scripture should be 
few, but should be well explained and well pondered. 
It will be better to present a single text well pondered 
by taking care to draw from it suitable moral applica 
tions, than to group together several passages which 
serve more to gratify the vanity of the preacher than to 
benefit the people. So also in regard to the opinions of 
the holy Fathers, they should be few in number, should 
be short and ingenious, that is, of such a nature as to 

220 Exercises of the Missions. 

explain the subject with taste and with a special em 

The comparisons should be exposed in a simple and 
popular manner, but should not be so common as to be 
unsuitable for the pulpit. 

Only a few examples should be given two or three 
at the most will suffice for a sermon; and they should 
not be too long this being accomplished by leaving out 
unimportant details. 

The moral applications should be strong and well 
discussed. It will be observed, as has been said above, 1 
that from them the greatest part of the fruit of the 
mission is derived. There should not be in every ser 
mon a long string of moral applications,, mentioned 
superficially in passing, for example, against enmity, 
theft, impurity, lying, etc. It will be better to endeavor 
every time to combat firmly and in detail one or two of 
the more common vices, such as blasphemy, hatred, 
theft, and especially impurity, which being the most 
common of all, needs to be more frequently combated 
in the sermons. One should, however, take special care 
to speak with modesty when one treats of this shameful 
vice. Moreover, in the moral applications one should 
avoid hurting the feelings of any one; for those that 
recognize themselves in any humiliating allusion, which 
the hearers may apply to them, will not only not derive 
any benefit therefrom, but will become prejudiced, be 
cause they will become incensed and more hardened in 
evil. One should also guard against ever censuring 
priests or religious, even in general. 


As for the manner of preaching on missions, we have 
already spoken of this above, 2 when we spoke of the 
dignity of elocution. We have there quoted 3 the opin- 
Pages 192 and 193. a Page 199. 3 Page 205. 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. V. Instructions. 221 

ion of the celebrated Muratori, who thinks that when 
one speaks to an audience composed of many unin- 
structed persons all the sermons should be preached 
in a simple and familiar style; and when addressing 
country people, one should adopt a style that is as 
popular as can be, provided it be not coarse, so that 
these poor people may be instructed and moved in their 
own way. Moreover, as distinguished from Lenten and 
Sunday sermons, the manner of preaching on missions 
should be more free and unconnected; for the periods 
should be concise and detached, so that he who has not 
heard or understood the first may understand the second, 
and he that enters the church at the middle of the ser 
mon may at once understand what the preacher is say 
ing. This could hardly be successful in the case of 
persons who are but little instructed if the discourse is 
unbroken; hence he who has not heard the first sentence 
will understand neither the second nor the third. 

We must, furthermore, take notice of the good advice 
given by Muratori, namely, that in order to have the 
people continually attentive, it is very useful to employ 
often the interrogation or the figure called ANTIPHORA, 
or SUBJECTION, described above, 1 by which the orator 
puts a question and answers it himself; example: Tell 
me: Why are there so many that relapse after the mis 
sion ? It is because they do not keep away from the 
occasion of sin. Or: What do these words of the Holy 
Ghost mean: Desires kill the slothful? 1 We thereby 
understand those who, having bad habits, always desire 
to amend their lives and never employ the means of 
doing so. Or, one makes this exclamation: Oh how 
touching are the words of Jesus Christ: Him that 
comcth to Me, I will not cast out ! s What also serves to 

1 Page 214. 

2 " Desideria occidunt pigrum." Prov, xxi. 25. 

3 " Eum, qui venit ad me, non ejiciam foras." John, vi. 37. 

222 Exercises of the Missions. 

keep the hearers attentive, is often to claim their atten 
tion by saying: Pay attention to what I am going to 
tell you. Or: Hear the beautiful reflection made by a 
celebrated author. One should, however, avoid always 
using the same form and employing too often this means, 
and thus causing the hearers to grow weary. 

To move the feelings of the hearers it is very useful 
to make an invocation, even in the middle of the sermon; 
for example: My God, how many unfortunate beings 
are damned in consequence of this illusion ! Or: O 
Lord ! how canst Thou tolerate these traitors, who 
promise Thee, and immediately afterwards, etc. Or: 

holy Virgin Mary, obtain that these poor blind crea 
tures may be enlightened, etc. Or: O God of goodness, 
Thou comest to seek us in order to save us, and we flee 
far from Thee in order to damn ourselves ! It is also 
good sometimes to repeat in a grave manner some strong 
maxim; for example: We must die; we must die; it is 
an evil without a remedy ! Or we may use some weighty 
exclamation; for example: O cursed sin ! O great mo 
ment, the moment of death ! or: eternally happy or 
eternally unhappy ! 

As regards the modulation of the voice, one must 
avoid the uniform and emphatic tone of the panegyrists: 

1 am speaking of those that preach their own praises, 
and not those of a saint; for even panegyrics should, 
according to Muratori, be pronounced in such a way as 
to produce fruit and not merely wind. It is good some 
times, as has been said above, to use the THIRD TONE 
when there is question of inspiring fear or compassion. 
Besides, one should guard against always speaking in a 
forced tone, as is done by certain missionaries, who run 
the risk, of bursting a blood-vessel, or at least of losing 
their voice, while, on the other hand, this manner of 
speaking wearies the audience without any special 
benefit. What rouses and conciliates the attention of 

CJiap. VII. The Sermon. V. Instructions. 223 

the people is to speak in a tone, now high, now low, but 
without excessive and sudden transitions; at one time 
to make a longer exclamation, at another, to make a 
pause, and then to continue with a sigh, etc. This 
variety of tone always keeps the hearers attentive. 


It will be useful to mention here several things con 
cerning the act of contrition, which is the most impor 
tant pa -t of the mission sermons. One shall derive but 
little profit from the sermon if the hearers remain con 
vinced, without, however, being penetrated with com 
punction and without being resolved to amend their 
life; 1 now it is this last effect that it is intended to be 
produced by making an act of contrition. 

At first, before making the people kneel down, one 
should endeavor to move them as much as possible to 
kneel down of themselves. At last, when the hearers 
are on their knees, before showing them the crucifix, 
one should make them all say: O Lord, pardon! O 
Lord, mercy ! Afterwards, the torches having been 
brought in, and then the crucifix, one should make 
them recite several acts of contrition two or three of 
them each with its proper and distinct motive, in order 
that the sinners may repent and sigh, not inconsiderately, 
but with a motive and with reason. Otherwise if one 
contents one s self with saying, as some do: All should 
weep, should repent, should ask pardon of God; all this 
without proposing the motives, then, undoubtedly, 
many people will cry out, will shed tears, when they 
hear others crying out, shedding tears, but they will do 
this without knowing the reason why; and the result 
will be a great deal of noise but no fruit. The preacher 
should, therefore, take care to wait till the cries cease be 
fore proposing the motive, so that the hearers may hear 
1 See above, page 195. 

224 Exercises of the Missions. 

and understand him ; if this is not done, he will by speak- 
ingduring this commotion exhaust himself in vain. Hence 
the motive is to be proposed when the people are quiet. 
One shall say, for example: Sinners, my brethren, let 
each one of you address to Jesus Christ this petition: 

Lord! why hast Thou waited for me till now, and 
hast borne with me after the many offences that I have 
heaped upon Thee ? Hear what answer our Lord gives 
to you: I have waited for you, and I have borne with 
you in order to pardon you; repent, and I will pardon 
you, etc. (We will afterwards give other examples of 
these motives for the convenience of preachers.) After 
having proposed the motive, one should inculcate re 
pentance by saying, for example: Let us now take cour 
age! ask pardon of God; raise your voices, and say 
amidst tears and sighs: O Lord! I have offended Thee; 

1 repent of my sins; I am sorry for them, etc. 

It will also be very useful, when finishing, to have the 
people make a more formal and more extended act of 
contrition by calling upon them to repeat the words 
that one shall suggest one after the other. At first one 
shall tell the people to make an act of love to Jesus 
crucified by preparing them for it by some motive 
briefly expressed; then an act of hope of pardon by re 
posing confidence in the blood of Jesus Christ; and 
finally, the act of attrition followed by the act of con 
trition. But before forming this act, one should induce 
the hearers to make it for the confession for which they 
are preparing themselves; for, according to the probable 
opinion of a good number of authors, the act of repent 
ance, as the matter of the sacrament, should be made 
in view of the absolution that is to be received. Then 
is to be added the good resolution never more to offend 
God, with the intention of going to confession the same 
evening or the day after, and to confess all sins without 
omitting any one of them through shame. 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. V. Instructions. 225 

It must also be here remarked, that the preacher, at the 
beginning and at the end of every sermon, as also in the 
sermon itself, should always exhort the hearers to hear 
the sermon with the intention of confessing as soon as 
possible that very evening or the following morning; 
for if one does not take this precaution in the begin 
ning, it will easily happen that the people will put off 
confession till the last moment, and thus the mission 
will end in confusion and with little profit. Moreover, 
in telling the people to make a firm purpose of amend 
ment, the preacher should at times insinuate, at the end 
of the act of contrition, a special resolution in regard to 
certain more habitual sins, as, for example, to avoid 
blasphemy, to restore the goods of others, to forgive 
enemies, not to violate chastity, and above all to flee 
from the occasion by reminding them several times 
during the sermons, that he who does not remove the 
proximate occasion cannot be absolved; this is also to 
be understood in regard to fathers and mothers that 
permit the betrothed of their daughters to enter the 
house. It is good to insist, and insist repeatedly, upon 
that which refers to the good resolution by saying, for 
example: Do not defer, make now, the resolution to do 
what God asks of you ; make haste; do you perhaps wish 
that God should abandon you ? This will surely happen 
if you do not make up your mind. 

Before finishing the sermon, the preacher should urge 
the people always to have recourse to Mary by asking 
her for some particular grace, as holy perseverance, a 
happy death, love for God, etc. 

At the end, when giving the people the blessing with 
the crucifix, one should suggest to them what they must 
say while receiving it; for example: O My God! I do 
not wish to lose Thee any more. Or: O Lord! if I 
should still offend Thee, let me rather die. O Lord! do 
not permit that I should again separate myself from 

226 Exercises of the Missions. 

Thee. I have offended Thee enough; I do not wish to 
offend Thee any more in future. O my God! in the 
past, I have offended Thee; hereafter, I will love Thee. 
The sermon concluded, one should avoid imposing 
upon the people the recitation of " Hail Marys" for the 
persons that have asked for them; they should be recited 
before the sermon; for if they are recited afterwards, the 
compunction produced by the sermon will grow cold. 
The best thing will be, to tell the women that they 
should return home with a contrite heart by thinking of 
the sermon that they have heard; as for the men, they 
should be told to remain, either to follow the mission 
aries who are to give the evening exhortation, 1 or to 
participate in the exercise of taking the discipline. 2 


1. Sinners, my brethren, rid yourselves this evening 
of all fear. Of what are you afraid ? During the many 
years that you have lived away from God, he did not 
cease to go in search of you; and now that you are dis 
posed to change your life, would he repel you? Ah! 
do not hesitate; repent, weep, etc. 

2. St. Augustine says: If a poor shepherd loses a 
heifer, he weeps; if he loses a sheep, he weeps; and 
you who have lost God, the sovereign good, do not weep. 

3. My dear brethren, God comes in search of you to 
make peace with you; and you do not wish to make 
peace with God ? Come then, etc. 

4. Do you fear that Jesus Christ will reject you ? Well, 
listen to what he says in the Gospel: Him that cometh to 
Me, I will not cast out? I cannot repel him who comes 
to me repentant. Do you understand this? Come, etc. 

5. Oh, how God rejoices when he sees a sinner weep 
ing over his sins! My brethren, how much displeasure 

1 Page 95. 2 Page 117. 

3 " Eum, qui venit ad me, non ejiciam foras." John, vi. 37. 

Chap. VI L The Sermon. V. Instructions. 227 

have you not caused Almighty God! Give him, there 
fore, this evening, this pleasure by saying to him with 
your whole heart: O Lord, my God! I repent of having 
offended Thee. 

6. Tell me, sinners: Did Jesus Christ deserve to be 
treated as he was treated ? But this good Lord does 
not wish that you should despair; ask his pardon, etc. 

7. Have you the desire to obtain pardon of God ? 
Know that God desires still more to grant it to you. 

8. You see here Jesus Christ; you see what your soul 
has cost him; you see what he has done for you; and 
you wished to lose Jesus Christ for a mere nothing! 

9. You have turned your back upon God, and God 
has done the same to you; but hear what Jesus Christ 
says to you this evening: Turn ye to Me . . . and I will 
turn to you. 1 Leave sin, and return to me; I embrace 

10. Sinners, during how many years have you fled 
from the Lord who comes to you ? Hear what he says 
this evening to each one of you: My dear little sheep, 
stop, cease to run away from me, who wishes to do you 
good, who wishes to serve you. 

11. The Lord speaks to you this evening as if bewail 
ing your loss: Why will you die, O house of Israeli* But 
you answer: What shall I do? the sins have been com 
mitted. And thereupon the Lord answers: Return ye, 
and live? Return to me, repent, and I will pardon you. 

12. See Jesus Christ, with open arms, calling you and 
saying to each one of you: My child, ask my pardon; 
for I will pardon you. 

13. Sinners, you would no doubt like also to hear the 
words addressed by Jesus Christ to Magdalen: Thy 
sins are forgiven thee* Well, if you wish to hear them, 

1 " Convertimini ad me . . . et convertar ad vos."Zac/i. i. 3. 

2 " Quare moriemini, domus Israel?" Ezech. xviii, 31. 
a " Revertimini, et vivite." Ib. 32. 

4 " Remitluntur tibi peccata." Luke, vii. 48. 

228 Exercises of the Missions. 

cast yourselves weeping, like Magdalen, at the feet of 
your Saviour, etc. 

14. Rejoice sinners, because you have not to treat 
with a man of this earth, but with God. If you had 
offended any person as you have offended God, I should 
say to you that there would be but little hope for par 
don; but you have to treat with God, whose mercy is 
infinite. Should you have offended him for fifty con 
secutive years by committing every day a thousand 
mortal sins, it would be sufficient for you to say this 
evening: O Lord, I repent, etc. God will immediately 
answer you: And I will pardon you all the displeasure 
that you have caused me. 

These motives are here presented as examples; one 
may form many others like them. 


Such are the rules of preaching; but the first rule is 
that which was given by the Venerable John d Avila 
to a priest who had asked him for some good rule in 
order to preach well: " If you wish to preach well," he 
said to him, " love Jesus Christ much." To preach well 
is to attain the end of the sermon, that is, that the hear 
ers are converted to God and that they put in practice 
what they are taught; now this is attained by those 
preachers that love God. We read in the chronicles of 
the discalced Carmelites that a Father, named Julian of 
St. Paul, although he had studied but little, preached with 
such success that the people came in crowds to hear 
him and were converted, every one of them deriving 
much fruit from his sermons. Some one having asked 
what good could be found in this preacher, whom every 
one went to hear, the following answer was given to 
him: "We go to hear him, because he is a saint: he 
sheds tears during Mass, he sleeps little, he always goes 
about with his eyes cast down, he is always praying, he 

Chap. VI L The Sermon. V. Instructions. 229 

speaks only of God and of our welfare; and therefore 
we do what he tells us." John d Avila had then rea 
son to say that the first and most important rule for 
preaching well is to love God. 


Beside the sermon on mortal sin, in which one shows 
precisely the malice of sin considered as a contempt for 
God, and besides the three sermons on the Last Things, 
or on death, judgment, and hell, which should always 
be given, one must not fail, before beginning to preach 
on the Last Things, to preach a sermon on confession, 
in which one should show especially the gravity of the 
sacrilege and the ruin brought upon the soul by the sin 
of concealing sins in confession. 

Moreover, one should not omit to preach, immediately 
after the sermon on hell, a sermon on the Blessed Vir 
gin, in which one should speak chiefly on the confidence 
that we should have in the protection of this divine 
Mother by having recourse to her in order to overcome 
the temptations and obtain a happy death. 

Again, one should not omit the sermon on prayer, or 
the absolute necessity in which we are of always recom 
mending ourselves to God to obtain perseverance in 
what is good and eternal salvation; and in this sermon 
one should suggest to the people the practical manner 
of recommending themselves to God, in the morning on 
rising, in the evening on retiring, when they visit the 
Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin, and above 
all when they are assailed by temptations. This ser 
mon should be preached on all the missions, since, 
without prayer, one cannot obtain perseverance; and 
when on any little mission time is wanting, one must 
speak at length of prayer in the last sermon that is fol 
lowed by the blessing. 

The other sermons are arbitrary; one may choose, as 

230 Exercises of the Missions. 

one thinks fit, among them the sermon on the mercy of 
God, the spiritual and temporal chastisements of sin, the 
divine vocation, the importance of salvation, the vanity 
of temporal goods and temporal evils in comparison with 
eternal good and eternal evils, the number of sins, or 
abandonment on the part of God a sermon of great 
use for the perseverance of sinners who are converted 
final impenitence, scandal, and perseverance, a subject 
that is treated in the last sermon when the blessing is 


The Exercise of the Devout Life. 

The exercise of the devout life is one of the most use 
ful of the mission. Souls that give up sin only when 
moved by the fear of divine chastisements, when the 
mission is finished and their emotion dissipated, easily 
return to their old vices; but those that remain attached 
to God by love, easily persevere. Hence I say that the 
exercise of the devout life is very useful; for one s only 
aim thereby is to point out the means necessary for per 
severance while penetrating the hearers with love for 
Jesus Christ by the consideration of his Passion and of 
the love that he has borne to us. It is indeed great 
misery to see that preachers usually treat of everything 
else except of the love for Jesus Christ after God has 
done so much and suffered so much to gain our love. 
But let us come to our subject. 

On the last days of the mission, before its close, the 
usual sermon is replaced by the exercise of the devout 
life, which exercise lasts three days, or at least two in 
small places. 

On each of these evenings the preacher begins by 
giving a half hour s practical instruction on the means 
to be used to lead a Christian life. He should especi 
ally teach therein the manner of making mental prayer; 

Chap. } /. The Sermon. /"Y. Devout Life. 231 

at first he should show them how useful and even how 
necessary it is to all kinds of persons in order that they 
may keep themselves in the grace of God; for Chris 
tians well know the truths of faith, but as they neglect 
to think of them, they do not live as Christians. Then 
he explains the manner of making meditation with facil 
ity so that every one can practise f it. I have already 
shown in my little work Instruction and Practice for Con 
fessors 1 the manner of making mental prayer, which 
should be taught by pastors of souls. The teaching of 
this method is substantially reduced to the following 
points: At first, the one that wishes to meditate, places 
himself in God s presence, humbles himself before him, 
asks him for the light that he needs; afterwards, he 
begins to read, if he knows how to read, either to con 
sider some point, whether of the Last Things, or of the 
Passion of Jesus Christ, or some other similar subject; 
and then he makes acts of contrition, of love, of confi 
dence, of petition, and makes good resolutions. 

One should recommend to the pastors to have daily 
meditation made in common with the people, either in 
the evening, or in the morning during Mass, by having 
some point of meditation read twice, namely, immedi 
ately before the beginning of Mass, and after the conse 

One should announce this to the people, but should 
add that those that cannot come to the church to make 
meditation with the others, should make it at least 
privately at home, in some retired place, and at a time 
when there is less noise in the house, and that, if they 
have no other time or no other way, they should at least 
make it while working or walking. Moreover, one 

1 Homo apost. append. 4, 3. Volume III. page 252, of the ascetical 

* See the beginning of Chapter IX. 

232 Exercises of the Missions. 

should exhort the fathers and the mothers to send their 
sons and daughters to church to make this exercise 
there, or to introduce it at home for the whole family, 
as some have already done. 

The foregoing instruction finished, the preacher kneels 
down and announces a mystery of the Passion of Jesus 
Christ which should be meditated upon; one may also 
unite two mysteries, as the scourging and the crown 
ing with thorns, or the journey to Calvary and the cru 
cifixion. In this exercise one may use the Reflections 
and Affections on the Passion, a little work which I have 
added to the Visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Before 
beginning the meditation it will be well to sing a hymn 
of the Passion, the better to dispose souls for compunc 
tion and tender affections; for in these meditations one 
does not speak of things that inspire fear; all the moral 
applications and all the affections should have for their 
object the practice of virtues, and especially of a tender 
love for Jesus Christ. The preacher should, therefore, 
say at the beginning: I wish this evening no more tears 
of fear, but tears of tenderness and of love. 

One begins the exercise for the preparation by making 
the ordinary acts: the act of faith in the real presence 
of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament with the act of 
adoration, the act of humility with the act of contrition 
and the petition for light. Then, after having said an 
Ave Maria, one passes to the meditation of the mystery, 
which contains four parts: the representation, the reflec 
tion, the affection, and the firm purpose of amendment. 

i. The REPRESENTATION consists in exposing in a lively 
manner, before the eyes of the hearers, the mystery with 
all the most touching and most important circumstances; 
for example: Imagine, my brethren, that you see Jesus 
bound to the column,, his head bent, his eyes fixed upon 
the ground, waiting for the tortures that the execu 
tioners are preparing for him, etc. 

Chap. VIL The Sermon. VI. Devout Life. 233 

2. The REFLECTION; for example: Consider the pains 
of Jesus Christ and his confusion by seeing himself 
treated like a slave, and think that by your sins you 
have been the cause of the sufferings that your Saviour 

3. The AFFECTIONS, not only of compassion for Jesus 
Christ, a sentiment on which some dwell too much, but 
also of hatred for sin, and above all of love for our 
Redeemer. One should remark that in these medita 
tions the principal part is the movement of the affec 
tions, and that the missionary should dwell thereon at 
greater length; for example: Say to him then: Here I 
am, O my Jesus! let me know what Thou desirest of me; 
I wish to perform it immediately. At this moment I 
should be in hell where I could no longer love Thee; 
but since it is permitted to me to love Thee still, I wish 
to love Thee. Or: Faithful soul, dost thou not see 
that God calls thee to his love? Render thanks to him, 
and say to him: O my God! how could I in the past 
have been so ungrateful to Thee, who hast loved me so 
much ? The life that remains to me I will spend entirely 
in weeping over the displeasure that I have caused Thee, 
and in loving Thee with my whole heart. O cursed 
years! what have you done? you have made me offend 
my dear Saviour, who has wished to die tor me. O my 
God ! I give myself entirely to Thee ; accept me, O 
Lord, for hereafter I will belong entirely to Thee ! 

4. The FIRM PURPOSE OF AMENDMENT, or the resolution 
to put in practice the means given to each one to sanc 
tify himself. It is this that should be inculcated from 
time to time: Courage, faithful soul, decide now to give 
thyself to God. Thou seest that Jesus Christ calls thee 
to his love; thou seest that he wishes to be loved by 
thee; do not resist any longer. He wishes you to give 
up that attachment . . . The mission is already com 
ing to a close; make without delay a generous resolu- 

234 Exercises of the Missions. 

tion, and thou wilt see the graces that God will bestow 
upon thee if thou obeyest his voice. Say without hesi 
tation: Yes, my Jesus, I wish to please Thee; I wish to 
do all that Thou wishest me to do; help me; give me 
Thy love; I desire nothing more. 

Following these examples, one should interweave the 
meditation with other acts of a firm purpose, of thanks 
giving, of self-oblation, of resignation, and of petition, 
by specially asking for holy perseverance and -the love 
of God. At the end one should briefly make the Chris 
tian acts of faith, of hope, of love, and of contrition; 
but the preacher should stop longer at the act of love 
and of contrition. The first evening he may exhibit a 
picture of the Ecce Homo; the second evening, the image 
of Christ crucified. 1 

The Last Sermon, on Perseverance, with the Papal Blessing. 

After the evenings consecrated to the exercise of the 
devout life comes the last sermon, with the papal bless 
ing. I know that other Congregations have the custom 
of giving it before this exercise, and we ourselves fol 
lowed this custom for some time; but experience has 
taught us that it is better to finish it in a different man- 

1 In regard to this, we read in the life of the holy author: " Affec 
tions on the Passion were then so tender in the mouth of Alphonsus 
that torrents of tears could be seen flowing in the church: before, the 
people wept through sorrow for having sinned; in this meditation, they 
shed tears of love. To move the sensibility of the people, he exhibited 
before their eyes, in the last of these meditations, a large picture which 
he had himself painted, and in which Jesus Christ was represented dead 
on the cross, having his limbs all covered with blood and wounds. 
This exercise, so touching, produced the greatest fruit on the missions" 
(Tannoia and Villecourt, 1. 2, ch. 52). 

We have collected the different teachings of St. Alphonsus on mental 
prayer, so that it forms a complete treatise: it is to be found in Volume 
III., page 252. ED. 

CJiap. VII. The Sermon. VII. Last Sermon. 235 

ner; for when the people have received the papal bless 
ing, they easily neglect to be present at the exercise of 
the devout life, believing in some way that the mission 
is over; on the other hand, it is easy to have every one 
:it this exercise in expectation of the blessing. 


On the day of the blessing there is no instruction; 
but the people should be kept occupied with the recita 
tion of the Rosary, which the missionary prolongs by 
examples and moral applications. Then, before begin 
ning the sermon, a short procession takes place with the 
Blessed Sacrament, accompanied only by priests: I have 
used the word short, because one should make only a 
few steps outside of the door of the church, where one 
should give with the Blessed Sacrament three blessings, 
one in the middle and two at the sides towards the 
fields, the priests chanting at each blessing the prayer 
of the Church: Ut fnictus terra dare ct conservarc dignc- 
ris : te r ogam us, audi nos. 

After the procession has re-entered the church, the 
Blessed Sacrament is placed on the altar, where it is 
veiled. Then the sermon begins ; in it one should 
speak of the necessity of perseverance for salvation, 
and should point out the means that are to be used in 
order to overcome the enemies of our salvation, namely, 
the world, the devil, and the flesh. One becomes victo 
rious over the world by not caring for human respect. 
)ne should speak at length against this vice ; because 
many souls who in the mission are converted and begin 
to lead a good life, yielding afterwards to this cursed 
human respect, for fear of being laughed at, abandon 
the Christian life and return to their old habits. At 
the same time, the hearers should be put on their guard 
against those impious men who, not wishing to do what 
is good, cannot see it in others without turning them 

236 Exercises of the Missions. 

into ridicule and making satirical songs on them. One 
overcomes the devil and his temptations by recommend 
ing one s self to God. Here one should again inculcate 
what should be repeated several times in the sermons, 
namely, that in temptations we must immediately have 
recourse to Jesus and Mary by invoking their holy names 
in order to obtain help. The means of overcoming the 
flesh, or the impure vice, is also prayer, but the flight of 
the occasions must be joined to it. On this subject one 
should speak at length about the sad consequences of 
visiting persons of the opposite sex, and of going into 
bad company. 

The advice that is to be left as a memento for the 
hearers is, chiefly, to frequent the sacraments, to make 
meditation every day, as also to visit the Blessed Sacra 
ment and the Blessed Virgin. Moreover, one should 
recommend to each family to recite the Rosary in com 
mon, and to every one in particular to say three " Hail 
Marys" in honor of the purity of Mary, in the morning 
after rising and in the evening before going to bed, 
adding a prayer for the grace of perseverance; to fast 
on Saturdays; to confess and communicate especially on 
each of the seven principal feasts of the Mother of God. 
One should also recommend the recitation, at the sound 
of the bell at three o clock in the afternoon, of three 
" Our Fathers and Hail Marys," in memory of the agony 
of Jesus Christ. The following beautiful devotion 
should also be recommended: When a sick person is in 
his agony this should be announced by five or seven 
strokes of the large bell, and then every one should 
recite three " Our Fathers and Hail Marys" to obtain 
for the one that is dying a happy death. This is a salu 
tary practice, not only for the sick, but also for all the 
rest who are reminded of death, which will one day 
overtake them. Finally, one should recommend the 
act of contrition that is to be made every evening. 

C/iap. VII. The Sermon. VII. Last Sermon. 237 

This advice having been given, the preacher tells all 
to kneel down; then he says: The mission is now fin 
ished; before departing from you, I wish to leave you 
under the protection of the Blessed Virgin. Let each 
one of you repeat after me this prayer: 

O my Queen, my Advocate, my Hope, and my Mother ! 
I should have deserved to be banished from thy presence; 
but I know that thou, who art the Mother of mercy, doth 
not reject any one of those that have recourse to thy 
protection; I therefore, O my merciful Sovereign ! take 
refuge under thy mantle. I promise to love thee and to 
serve thee hereafter, and to do all that I can that thou 
mayest also be loved by others. I likewise promise thee 
that when I am tempted to offend thee I shall always 
have recourse to thee, and shall say: My Mother, help 
me. And thou, O my Queen ! support me in all the 
temptations and all the dangers to which I shall be ex 
posed to lose God. Above all, at the hour of death, do 
not abandon me, O my dear Mother ! protect me and 
save me .; for I protest that I shall live and die under 
thy protection. 


The foregoing prayer to the Mother of God having 
been finished, the preacher, before giving the blessing, 
takes leave of the people in the following manner: 

You see now, my dear brethren, that the mission has 
drawn to a close. Before my .departure, I wish you to 
pardon me if in my discourses I have caused displeasure 
to any one. For the rest, I have always spoken in gen 
eral, without intending to offend any one in particular. 
All that was harsh and severe in what I said, was not 
said against you but against vice, because I should like 
to see every one of you saved. If, however, I have gone 
too far, if I have caused weariness, if I have been indis 
creet in my reprimands, I ask your pardon. I ask you 

238 Exercises of the Missions. 

especially to pardon me all the obstacles that I have 
placed, by my defects, in the way of your spiritual 
profit, and to pray to Jesus Christ also to pardon me. 

I thank you for your attendance at the exercises of the 
mission, as well as for the obedience that you have 
shown. I bless all the sweat and all the labor that you 
have cost me during these days, and I offer all to God 
for your eternal salvation; I even protest that I am 
ready to give my life for each one of you, in order that 
we all that are here may have the happiness of saving 
our souls and of seeing ourselves all together in heaven. 

I part from you, satisfied with the great work wrought 
in this mission. A simple thought fills me with sorrow, 
namely, whether there is any one among you who, not 
withstanding the mission, still remains an enemy of 
God. Suppose that there is such a one among you, I 
would say to him: Poor sinner, you must know that, 
although the mission has come to an end, yet the mercy 
of God has not come to end for you. Do not despair; 
if you wish to make your peace with God, there is yet 
time: ask his pardon, and he will pardon you; here is 
Jesus Christ (here the crucifix is shown), who still calls 
you, having his arms open to receive you and to pardon 
you. My brethren, let each one among you now say 
to Jesus : O Lord! I trust that Thou hast already par 
doned me ; but if through my fault I have not yet 
been pardoned, deign to grant me pardon on this 
evening of the last day of the mission; for, O my God, 
infinite good! I repent of having offended Thee, etc. 
Ah! be assured, ye children of so good a Father. I do 
not doubt that he has pardoned you all. What you 
have to do in future for your salvation is to continue to 
live in the grace of God; for if you betray him again 
after the mission, I very much fear that he will abandon 
you. Courage, then, my brethren; make a good resolu 
tion; if that has not yet been made, make it this even- 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. VII. Last Sermon. 239 

ing; renounce the world. What have you profited by 
having committed so many sins ? Ah! give yourselves 
now to God; begin to love this God, who has shown you 
so much mercy, and who, as I trust, now loves you so 
much; do not lose all the good that you have gained 
during these days. 

My dear children, I depart from you; but see him 
whom I am leaving behind for you (here the crucifix 
is show r n) : I leave you this infinitely amiable God; 
learn how to love him. Ye men, my brethren, I depart 
from you; but I leave you this excellent Friend, who 
loves you more than any other friend, more than any 
relative, more than your brother, more than your father, 
more than any person in this world. Ye Christian 
women, I depart from you; but I leave in your hearts 
this God of love, who died for you; unite yourselves to 
him, learn how to return love for love. And now I 
address myself to all of you: Souls redeemed by Jesus 
Christ, do not any more offend this good Saviour. 
What do you say? do you wish to offend him again? 
Say then : No, never, never. Ah! you say this too 
coldly; speak in a loud voice and say: O my God ! 
never more will I offend Thee; rather will I die a thou 
sand times than lose Thy grace. Now, if such is your 
resolve, raise your hand and give your word to Jesus 
Christ that you will no more offend him. 

Now I am going to bless you; but before doing so, 
let me make an agreement with you: you will pray for 
me and I will pray for you; I will recommend you every 
day to God at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and you 
will say three " Hail Marys" every day for me after the 
recitation of the Rosary; and when you hear of my 
death, you must offer up a holy Communion for the 
repose of my soul. 

240 Exercises of the Missions. 


Although I am only an unworthy minister of Jesus 
Christ, yet I bless you all this evening, in the name of 
the Most Blessed Trinity, of the Father who created 
you, of the Son who redeemed you, and of the Holy 
Ghost who enlightened you, in the name of Mary, the 
Immaculate Virgin, in the name of St. Joseph, of St. 
Michael the archangel, and of the Guardian Angels, in 
the name of St. N., your Patron, and of all your holy 
Advocates, in the name of all the angels and of all the 
saints of paradise. I do not take the liberty of blessing 
your worthy bishop rather should I receive the bless 
ing from him; but I pray to God to bless him and to 
sanctify him more and more. You, my dear brethren, 
should always recommend him to God; for he does not 
cease to think of your welfare, and you are obliged to 
pray for him. Nor am I so bold as to bless the Very Rev 
erend Vicar-General, the Very Reverend Canons, your 
pastor, or the other priests: I pray to Jesus Christ to 
bless them. Reverend Pastor, here are the members of 
your flock; we leave them all united with God; it is your 
duty to guard them in order that on the day of judg 
ment you may present them in the state of grace to 
Jesus Christ. As a priest, I bless all the civil author 
ities, the Superiors of the congregations, and all those 
who during the mission have rendered us services, and 
have shown us so much charity. 

Now, my dear brethren, it is you whom I wish to 
bless. In the name of Jesus Christ, I bless you soul and 
body .1 bless your body and all its senses. I bless your 
eyes, in order that they may always be modest by never 
looking at any object that may lead you into tempta 
tion; I therefore specially bless your eyes. (Here the 
blessing is given with the crucifix.) I bless your ears, 
that you may never misuse them by listening to things 

CJiap. VII. The Sermon. VI L Last Sermon. 241 

that offend God. I bless your mouth, that you may 
never employ it in uttering blasphemies, imprecations, 
immodest words, and wicked songs. (Here a second 
blessing is given.) I bless your feet, that when you can 
you may come to church to make mental prayer, as also 
visits to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Vir 
gin. I bless your hands. Young people, raise your 
hands: I wish to bless them. (Again the blessing is 
given towards the men.) I bless all your children; de 
vote yourselves to their sanctification, in order that one 
day you may find them all together in paradise. I bless 
all your relatives that cannot come to church I bless 
all your lands, that they may bring forth abundant fruit. 
(Here the blessing is given towards the fields, on the 
right and on the left.) I also bless all your affairs, your 
goods, your animals, your hopes. My dear brethren, 
behave towards God as you should, and he will heap 
upon you spiritual and temporal goods. In fine, I bless 
all the bread that you eat, the ground upon which you 
walk, the air that you breathe; I include in this bless 
ing all that concerns you. 

But, above all, I bless your soul: this soul which was 
purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ; I bless your 
soul and all its powers, the memory, the understanding, 
and the will. I bless your memory, that you may not 
cease to recall to your mind all the graces that God has 
conferred upon you in this mission, and especially in 
this church. When you see this pulpit from which the 
Lord has spoken to you, this altar at which you have 
communicated, this confessional where Jesus Christ has 
pardoned you, remember all the graces that you have 
received there, and learn how to be grateful. I bless 
your understanding, that you may every day make 
mental prayer, and that you may think often of God, 
who always thinks of you and of your welfare. I espe 
cially bless your will, that you may love this God who de- 

242 Exercises of the Missions. 

serves so much to be loved, and who loves you so much. 
I bless, moreover, all the steps that you have taken to 
come to the church to hear the word of God, all the 
confessions and the communions that you have made, 
all the tears that you have shed during these days, as 
well as all the resolutions that you have taken, and all 
the promises that you have made to Jesus Christ, in 
order that you may be faithful to them. 

Before I give you the last blessing, pray to the Blessed 
Virgin to bless you herself from on high, and to cause 
you to be blessed this evening by her divine Son. Re 
ceive now the papal blessing. My Lord Jesus Christ, as 
I bless them on earth, so bless them from on high, and 
pardon them all their sins. And you, my dear brethren, 
make again an act of contrition for your sins both mor 
tal and venial, in order that you may receive in the 
blessing that I am going to give you a plenary indulg 
ence of all your sins. Raise your voice while I bless you, 
and say: O Lord! I am sorry for all the offences tha t 
I have committed against Thee; henceforth I will love 

Here the blessing is given with the crucifix by pro 
nouncing, in a loud voice and intermittingly, these 
words: Benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Pair is et Filii et Spiri- 
tus Sancti, descendat super vos et maneat semper. Then the 
preacher will say: 

During the singing of the Te Deum recite five " Our 
Fathers" and five " Hail Marys" and a " Glory be to 
the Father," to the intention of the Holy Father, in 
order to gain the indulgence. The Te Deum is now 
sung, in order to thank God for all the graces that he 
has conferred upon you; therefore, while the priests are 
chanting, thank God with tears of love for all the graces 
that you have received. Let the Blessed Sacrament be 
unveiled. (The Blessed Sacrament having been un 
veiled the preacher from the pulpit intones the Te Deum, 

Chap. VII. The Sermon. VII. Last Sermon. 243 

which is continued by the clergy, who are assembled 
before the altar; then turning himself towards the 
people, he adds): Behold Jesus Christ; thank him with 
tears in your eyes, and promise him that you will 
sanctify yourselves. 

The Tc Dciun finished, the celebrant, who should be 
one of the missionaries, after the prayers indicated in 
the Ritual, says five prayers: the first, that of thanks 
giving, Dens cujns nrisericordue; the second, that of the 
Blessed Virgin, Concede nos ; the third, that of the titu 
lary saint of the church; the fourth, for the Sovereign 
Pontiff; and the fifth for the civil authorities. Then 
the Pange lingua* is sung, the Blessed Sacrament is in 
censed as usual; then the verse Panon de ca /o and the 
prayer Dens qni nobis are sung. After the prayer, the 
deacon takes the Blessed Sacrament, and gives it to the 
priest kneeling on the highest step of the altar; the 
priest turns with the Blessed Sacrament towards the 
people, and then, at the foot of the altar the preacher 
says: Brethren, I have blessed you with the crucifix; now 
Jesus Christ himself wishes to bless you in the Blessed 
Sacrament. See him here; reanimate your faith, and 
beg of him that, as we are this evening reunited in this 
church, we may one day have the happiness of finding 
ourselves all together in paradise. But in order to 
enter paradise, we must love God; say then to Jesus 
Christ while he is blessing you: My Jesus, I love Thee, 
and I do not wish to cease loving Thee. O Lord! deign 
to bless them. Let the organ resound; let the bells be 
rung; and you, raising your voices, say with tears: My 
Jesus! etc. 

* There is here question of the two strophes Pange lingua and Tan- 
turn ergo, which are found further on at the end of the Acts for the 
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament. It was a particular custom to chant these 
two strophes for Benediction, instead of the last two, Tantum ergo and 
Qenitori, according to the common rule. El). 

244 Exercises of the Missions. 

Other Remarks Regarding the Sermon. 


1. At the end of the act of contrition, 1 the preacher 
shall strike himself two or three times with a rope : I 
say, with a rope, and not with a chain ; for a chain, if 
composed of massive rings, may very much injure the 
preacher, who, finding himself in fervor, would easily 
be led to strike himself without discretion ; and if it is 
composed of hollow links it would indeed make a noise, 
but would inflict no pain. He should, therefore, take a 
rope, on two or three evenings of the mission, and strike 
himself during a considerable time in order that one 
may not judge this whole ceremony to be a mere sham. 
But he should refrain from tying the rope around his 
neck, as if he wished to strangle himself, as some do ; 
this would appear to be a mere fiction. The preacher 
before striking himself shall take care to notice that 
he does this penance, not to expiate his own sins, but to 
obtain from God the grace of pardon for every obsti 
nate soul that happens to be in the church. 

2. In the sermon on death, before the act of contri 
tion, it is usual to show a skull, to which the preacher 
should speak as follows: 

Tell me, O skull: where is thy soul? is it in paradise, 
or in hell? Tell me: on the day of judgment in what 
state shall I find thee ? wilt thou be crowned with stars, 
or surrounded by serpents and flames? Tell me: art 
thou the head of a man, or the head of a woman ? If 
thou art the head of a man, tell me: What has become 
of all thy plans of fortune and ambition? whither has 
gone thy pride, thou who didst claim that every one 

1 Page 223. 

* It is needless to remark that these practices are unknown outside of 
Italy. ED, 

CIi. VI L 7^/ie Sermon. VIII. OtJier Remarks. 245 

should respect thee ? If thou art the head of a woman, 
what has become of thy beauty ? what has become of 
thy beautiful hair? Alas ! worms have made them dis 
appear. Where are thy beautiful eyes? Worms have 
consumed them. Where is thy tongue, with which thou 
didst sing so beautiful songs ? Worms have devoured 
it. In a word, thou who didst flatter thyself to be so 
charming, see now thou art so hideous as to inspire 

After this the preacher, addressing the people, says: 
My dear brethren, you see what this skull is ; so each 
one of you will be one day. There is no remedy: we 
must die ! we must die ! The act of contrition is then 

3. In the sermon on hell it is customary to show the 
picture of a person that is damned. It has happened in 
our missions that sinners who remained insensible to all 
the other sermons, were moved at the sight of this pic 
ture and were converted. The manner of proceeding is 
as follows: The preacher, after having made the act of 
contrition, says: 

I have spoken to you in this sermon about hell; but 
what could I say about hell ? Nothing; for hell is known 
only by him who endures it. Ah ! if this evening there 
came forth from hell a soul that is damned, in order to 
speak to you, it would know how to tell you what hell 
is. At least, my brethren, allow me to let you see a pic 
ture of one that is damned, in order that he may speak 
to you in his own way; here he is. Sinners, recognize 
yourselves in this picture, and see what you should be 
on account of your sins. 

This picture should be carried by a missionary at the 
height of about ten or twelve palms above the ground; 
two other missionaries walk before him with two large 
torches, which they should take care to hold low enough 
and far enough from the picture so that the smoke does 

246 Exercises of the Missions. 

not prevent it from being seen. The priests then move 
from the high altar and go to the door through the 
church, stopping from time to time, and turning the 
picture slowly now on one side, now on the other ; the 
picture is then given to the preacher, who shows it from 
the pulpit, where he leaves it till the following evening 
exposed to the gaze of all ; then he takes the crucifix 
and gives the blessing. 

4. Another very touching practice is to carry the 
statue of the Blessed Virgin in procession to the church 
at the end of the sermon ; this is the way it is done: 
Every evening this statue is exposed ; but on this day 
we take it out of the church ; immediately after the act 
of contrition, everything having been arranged before 
hand, the door is opened, all the priests, in surplice and 
with lighted torches, are seen entering, carrying the 
statue of the Blessed Virgin, which they proceed to put, 
after walking through the church, in its usual place, 
near the pulpit. 

5. It is also very useful if the missionaries walk in 
procession, in a penitential garb, strewn with ashes, and 
with a rope around their necks ; they enter the door in 
procession, and afterwards take the discipline in the 
middle of the church. On another evening the priests 
of the place can hold a similar procession. 

6. It might also be well, on one evening, after the ser 
mon and the act of contrition, to have the people to 
make a general reconciliation, the women embracing 
the women, and the men embracing the men. But 
before this the preacher should call upon them to stand 
up; then he tells them that while peace is being "made, 
the daughters should ask pardon of their mothers, the 
sons of their fathers, and that the persons who have 
offended their neighbors should go in search of those 
whom they have offended. All the missionaries should 
be present at this exercise, to see that the men are sepa- 

C/i. VIL The Sermon. VIII. Other Remarks. 247 

rated from the women, and to prevent disorder ; more 
over, when the people show themselves insensible, it 
will sometimes be opportune for the missionaries to 
come forward to exhort and persuade them. 


This ceremony is very touching; it is performed in 
the following manner: 

After the last meditation of the exercise of a devout 
life, the preacher announces that as a remembrance not 
only of the Passion of our Saviour, but also of the mis 
sion, five crosses would be erected, and that the faithful 
who visit them can gain ten thousand years of indulg 
ence by reciting five "Our Fathers" and five "Hail 
Marys" in memory of the Passion of Jesus Christ and 
of the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin (Ap. P. Viva, in ap 
pend. Jubil. in calce Trutina, ult.).* 

We may see what has been said above about this exer 
cise (pages 126 and 151). 

Hence, the meditation finished, five missionaries come 
from behind the high altar, carrying each a cross upon 
his shoulder, and walking one after the other with two 
torches before each cross. When they have reached 
the place destined to receive the crosses, they place them 
on the ground; and at the erection of each cross a suita 
ble exhortation is given. 

The preacher should take care that during the proces- 

* Pope Pius IX., by a Rescript of March 27, 1852, deigned to grant 
other indulgences, namely: A plenary indulgence, on the anniversary of 
the erection of any cross, or on the Sunday following, as also on the 
Feasts of the Finding and of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ; condi 
tions requisite : To confess and to communicate ; to visit the cross, or 
one of the crosses erected, and a church or a public oratory and there 
to pray for some time to the intention of the Holy Father. 

Indulgence of thirty days every time one recites devoutly before the 
crosses erected, five " Our Fathers," five Hail Marys, " and five " Glory 
be to the Fathers," in memory of the wounds of our Lord. ED. 

248 Exercises of the Missions. 

sion the men leave the church first, and then the women, 
so as to avoid confusion; and during the exhortations 
the missionaries should watch that the two sexes remain 
separated, in order that everything that is unseemly 
may be prevented, as this ceremony usually takes place 
in the evening. 

The exhortations should be very short, in order that 
they may be animated and may not cause weariness in 
those that are present. As five crosses are to be erected, 
five exhortations are to be given in memory of the five 
principal mysteries of the Passion, the same as those 
of the Rosary, namely : the agony, the scourging, the 
crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross, and the 
crucifixion. Every exhortation contains three parts : 
the exposition of the mystery, the announcement of the 
grace for which one asks, and the prayer. Thus: In 
the first place, one exposes the mystery in memory of 
which the cross is erected. Secondly, one announces 
the grace that should be asked of the eternal Father, 
through the merits of Jesus Christ, by the faithful who 
should come to visit this cross, in accordance with the 
mystery that is announced ; for example : at the agony, 
one should ask pardon for one s sins; at the crowning 
with thorns, for victory over bad thoughts ; at the 
scourging, one should ask for the virtue of chastity; at 
the carrying of the cross, for patience in trials; at the 
crucifixion, for holy perseverance. Thirdly, at the erec 
tion of each cross one actually begs for the grace that 
refers to the mystery. 

At the end of each exhortation a missionary sings the 
following hymn : 

I adore thee, holy cross, 

My Saviour s painful bed, 
Whereon for sinful man 

Was placed that sacred head ; 
I adore thee, holy cross. 

Ch. VI L The Sermon. VIII. Other Remarks. 249 

The following is an example of the first exhortation, 
which, differing from the four that follow, should be 
preceded by a short introduction; then follow the three 
parts designated above. 

INTRODUCTION. My brethren, the mission is already 
at an end, and it closes by leaving to your considera 
tion how much Jesus Christ has suffered in order to 
save us. You should, then, in future unceasingly keep 
before your mind the remembrance of the love that 
your Redeemer has shown you in his Passion, as well 
as of the promises that you have made; this is the only 
reason why we erect these crosses. 

EXPOSITION OF THE MYSTERY. The first is erected here 
in memory of the bloody sweat endured by our Saviour 
in his prayer in the Garden of Olives. When you come 
to visit this cross, recite an " Our Father" and a " Hail 
Mary," and remember the bloody sweat and the agony 
which Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Olives 
while he was thinking of your ingratitude, etc. 

ANNOUNCEMENT OF GRACE. Through the merits of 
this pain which Jesus Christ felt, you should ask the 
eternal Father to grant you a great sorrow and pardon 
for your sins. 

PETITION FOR GRACE. Well, let us begin this evening, 
Raise the cross. (Here the cross is raised, and is to re 
main so.) Let all of you kneel down; let us adore this 
cross, and let us pray: O holy cross! we adore thee in 
memory of the bloody sweat and the agony which Jesus 
Christ suffered in the Garden of Olives. And Thou, O 
eternal Father ! by the merits of these sufferings of Thy 
well-beloved Son, give us a great sorrow for our sins and 
the pardon of all the offences that we have committed 
against Thee. 

After this prayer the foregoing hymn is intoned. 
Afterwards, in the same way, exhortations are given 
for the four other crosses. 

250 Exercises of the Missions. 


The placing of the audience and of the pulpit is of 
great importance to the success of the mission ; the 
Superior should therefore pay considerable attention to 
this point. The following is a way of arranging the 
audience : The women are put together in the upper 
part of the church, that is, towards the high altar ; and 
the men are to be in that part near the door. Care 
should be taken that the hearers are not placed too far 
from the pulpit ; for when they see the preacher from 
afar, his words make but little impression, because they 
seem to them to be addressed to others, and not to 

The pulpit should be placed in the middle or nearly 
in the middle, between the men and the]women. In our 
missions we are accustomed to use portable pulpits; 
for these can be more easily put in the desired place, 
and they are more suitable for familiar language, which 
is the language of the missions. It is, however, true, 
that in places- where the population is numerous, and 
where the churches are large, especially if they are very 
long, it is not opportune to use portable pulpits, which 
are very often low; for then those that are far off do not 
well see nor understand the preacher, whose voice re 
mains as it were stifled: under these circumstances one 
must preach from the pulpit of the church. 

One should, moreover, always take care, as much as 
possible, to separate the men from the women by means 
of curtains or benches, so that they may not even see 
one another. 

In our missions it is not customary to expose the 
Blessed Sacrament every day; this is done only at the 
last sermon, when Benediction is given. 

Near the pulpit it is usual to place a large statue of 

Ch. VII. The Sermon. VIII. Other Remarks. 25 1 

the Blessed Virgin, in such a manner that the feet of the 
statue may be nearly at the height of the pulpit. 


There are pastors who desire that the sermon should be 
finished before the close of the day; for they say that if 
it is given in the evening many scandals will be the 
consequence. But this is mere prejudice, and altogether 
a mistake when there is question of missions. During 
the time of the mission, especially in villages, the hearers 
are composed mostly of workmen who live from hand 
to mouth, and who consequently are obliged to work 
every day to make a living. This being the case, if the 
sermon is given during the day it will be attended only 
by priests, by a few people of leisure, and by a small 
number of devout women who can leave their occupa 
tion; whife most of the women, and especially the men, 
who need the mission most, will not be able to attend. 
They will scarcely come on holydays and on the last 
day, the day of the blessing, when they will be found 
insensible, because they have not heard the sermons: 
they will not then be absolved, and they will remain in 
the bad state in which they were before; so that the 
mission will be a failure, as this has happened in a cer 
tain place, because the sermon was preached before the 
men returned from the fields. It should be under 
stood that the greatest fruit of the mission consists in 
the conversion of the men; for if the men remain bad, 
the women will also be bad. 

But to this you may reply: If the mission is permitted 
to go on in the evening, many inconveniences will result 
therefrom; for every one knows the old proverb: Evil 
should not be done that good may arise therefrom 
Non sunt facie nda mala, vt eveniant bona. I reply: The 
proverb says: Evil should not be done Non suntfacienda 

252 Exercises of the Missions. 

mala. But it is not said: Evil is not permitted that good 
may arise therefrom Non sunt permittenda mala, ut eve- 
niant bona. Sometimes it is good to permit some evil in 
order that good may not be omitted, especially when 
there is question of the common good; for if one had to 
avoid all the inconveniences that may be caused in the 
exercises of piety, we should have to abolish in the 
Church all the feasts, the processions, the exposition of 
the Blessed Sacrament, and even the confessions and 
the communions, since all these works give rise to in 
conveniences; but the Church rightly permits these in 
conveniences in order not to hinder the common good. 
Moreover, I answer that during the mission these sup 
posed scandals hardly occur: then the people are more 
timorous; the wicked themselves abstain from commit 
ting any impertinence for fear of being regarded as men 
who have lost the faith, or at least, because they pre 
sume that they would not find those whom they wish to 
tempt ready to yield to their wicked designs. O God! 
can we suppose that those perverse men, who have so 
many occasions and means to do evil, will want to do so 
all the time of the mission ? Let us add that, as to what 
concerns shameful scandals, the danger does not mor 
ally exist: care is taken that the church is always well 
lighted as soon as it becomes dark; there are many 
lights and many eyes, and as for things outside of the 
church, the women always return home in the company 
of persons who will not allow the least scandal to be 
committed before their eyes. 

After all, let us concede that sometimes an impro 
priety may occur in some, place; but which is a greater 
evil to permit some rare impropriety of this kind, or 
to leave the whole population in the state in which it is, 
with its habitual sins, its wicked morals, its inveterate 
vices, its sacrileges, its scandals ? For my part, I do not 
understand the zeal of those who, through fear of some 

C/i. VI 7. The Sermon. VI I I. Other Remarks. 253 

rare impropriety which scarcely occurs, believe it their 
duty to hinder the certain good of the mission, by taking 
away from the people the opportunity to hear the ser 
mon. In the spring, when the days are long, the ser- 
mon may be successfully preached during the day; but 
,in winter it is impossible for the mission to succeed 
when the sermon is given before the evening. During 
this season it should be given only about half an hour 
before the setting of the sun; often even, where the 
fields are distant from the centre of habitation, it will 
be necessary to begin it half an hour after sunset, and 
sometimes even later. 

254 Exercises of the Missions. 



The Morning Meditation. 

DURING the mission, in the morning, before daybreak, 
a meditation is given for the convenience of persons 
who must work. There is no question here of the com 
mon and daily meditation which is usually made by 
pious persons or by communities, but of that which 
takes place in the missions, and which in substance is 
composed of all the parts requisite for the sermon, with 
this difference, that it demands a more moderate and 
more emotional style, admits less reasoning and fewer 
proofs, and should be shorter. The sermon usually 
lasts an hour and a quarter, inclusively of the act of 
contrition; but the meditation should not continue be 
yond three quarters of an hour. 

The parts of meditation are: First, the exordium with 
the proposition, the preparation, and the proofs; then 
the reflections, the applications, and the practices; and 
finally, the act of contrition with the resolution. In re 
gard to all these parts, we should observe what has 
been said on the subject of the sermon, Chapter VII., 
2. As for the preparation, which is made in the medi 
tation differently from the sermon, we have spoken of 
it in, 6 2 which treats of the devout life. 

It must be here remarked that in the places the popu- 

1 Page 184. a Page 230. 

Chap. VI I L //. The Confraternity. 255 

lation of which is numerous, on the days on which many 
people come to church, especially on feast days, besides 
the meditation, it is usual to preach another sermon, 
though at a later hour. 

The Discourse for the Members of the Confraternity. 

Nothing can be more useful to keep men in the path 
of virtue than to induce them to frequent a confraternity, 
the spiritual Father of which gives them an instruction 
on Sundays, and hears their confessions. We should, 
therefore, endeavor, as much as possible, to urge the 
men to have themselves admitted into the confraternity. 
The preacher should specially exhort them to join it; 
moreover, the evening after the sermon, it will be well 
to invite all those that wish to enter the confraternity 
to have their names registered in the church by a mis 
sionary. After this it will also be well for the preacher 
himself, or another missionary, on the morning of a 
feast day, to go to the chapel where the confraternity 
is to meet, and give a special instruction to the members; 
he should take care to give notice of this from the pulpit 
on the preceding evening, so that on the following day 
he may find them all assembled. The purpose of this 
instruction is to make known the great good that results 
from the frequentation of the confraternity, especially 
in the case of those that have been consecrated to the 
Blessed Virgin. 


Now all good things came to me together with her. 1 The 
great deluge at the time of Noe was the cause why all 
mankind perished, with the exception of eight persons 
who were saved in the Ark. In our time a deluge, not 

" Venerunt autem tnihiutnnia bonu pariter cum ilia." Wis. vii. n. 

256 Exercises of the Missions. 

of water, but of sins, continually inundates the earth, 
and few persons escape it, especially among seculars; 
hardly are those saved that take refuge in an ark of 
salvation, that is, some confraternity of the Blessed 
Virgin. Among so many seculars, how many are there 
in the grace of God ? There are some, but these fre 
quent the confraternity. 

My dear brethren, you have attended the mission; I 
trust that God, by the light of his grace, has made you 
see that there is no other good or happiness in this life 
than to save one s soul. The world calls him happy 
who is rich, who is honored, and it calls unhappy him 
who is poor and despised; but the truth is no one is 
happy but he who is in the grace of God and is saved, 
and that no one is unhappy but he who lives as an enemy 
of God and is damned. In a few days all things have an 
end for man; what will it then profit him to have gained 
the whole world if after dying he loses his soul, and 
goes to weep in hell for all eternity ? Now I wish to 
show what hope of salvation there is for him who fre 
quents the confraternity of the Blessed Virgin. 

When a secular asks me what he should do in order to 
save his soul, I know of no more useful and sure means 
to counsel him than to enter a confraternity. The con 
fraternity contains the most efficacious means to attain 
eternal salvation, so that every member of the confra 
ternity may rightly say that he finds therein all that is 
needful: All good things came to me together with her. 

In the first place, it is a great means of salvation for 
a secular to hear often the word of God, while, on the 
other hand, the holy Fathers regard him as damned who 
despises it; for the sheep of Christ willingly hear his 
voice, which he makes them hear through the mouth of 
his ministers: My sheep hear My roice. 1 In fact, seculars 
that give themselves up to the affairs of the world, and 

1 " Oves meae voceni meam audiuut." Jo/in, x. 27. 

Chap. VIII. //. The Confraternity. 257 

hear no sermons, easily lose the remembrance of the 
good and of the evil of the next world; and conse 
quently, abandoning themselves to earthly pleasures, 
they live and die in the state of sin. But he who fre 
quents the confraternity, hearing the priest speak of 
death, judgment, hell, eternity, easily resists with God s 
help the temptations that assail him, according to what 
the Holy Ghost says to us: In all thy works remember thy 
last end, and tJiou shalt never sin? 

Secondly, to keep one s self in the grace of God it is 
necessary to frequent the sacraments; for they are the 
nourishment of the soul; they preserve its life; this is 
especially done by holy Communion, which is called 
bread: as the earthly bread preserves the life of the 
body, so the heavenly bread preserves the life of the soul. 
This is taught by the Council of Trent, which says: 
"This sacrament frees us from daily faults, and pre 
serves us from mortal sins." 

Thirdly, he who visits the confraternity of the Blessed 
Virgin is enriched with graces by this divine Mother, 
through whose hands the Lord dispenses all his graces; 
this she tells us in these words that the Church applies 
toher: With me are riches . . that I may enrich them that 
lore me? And St. Bonaventure says: "He who obtains 
grace from Mary shall be recognized by the citizens of 
paradise; and he who bears the impress of her name 
shall be inscribed in the Book of life. " This is espe 
cially to be understood of the confraternity of Mary. 
We may see that to be enrolled as a member of the con 
fraternity is the same as to be inscribed in the Book of 

" Memorare novissima tua, et in reternum non peccabis. " Ecclus. 
vii. ,jo. 

Sest. 13, cap. 2. 

3 Mecum sunt divitine . . . ut ditem diligentes me." Prov. viii. 18. 
" Oni acquirit gratiam Maria?, agnoscetur a civibus paradisi; et qui 
habuerit characterein nominis ejus, annotabitur in Libro vita;." 2* salt. 
/ . J/. / . pj-. cji. 


258 Exercises of the Missions. 

life, provided we persevere in being faithful in frequent 
ing the confraternity and in observing its rules; for, of 
what use would it serve to have one s name inscribed on 
the register, or if one enters it without frequenting the 
sacraments; this being one of its most important rules ? 
There are some that enter the confraternity, not to 
honor the Blessed Virgin, nor to save their souls, but to 
domineer, to rule; and sometimes they begin to shout, 
to dispute in a manner more noisy than if they were at 
a house where gaming is going on. Those that act thus 
would do better to stay away from the confraternity. 

I therefore recommend to each one of you, first, to 
frequent the confraternity, and not to omit to be present 
through frivolous reasons, as some do, who either in 
order to play, or to take a walk, or to perform some 
trifling thing, will say that their business prevented 
them. But I say to them in reply: Know that in this 
world, whatever may be your business, you have nothing 
more important than the salvation of your soul; for if 
you lose your soul, all will be lost to you. Tell me: 
would you neglect to gain a thousand pieces of gold in 
your efforts to gain a few little pieces of money ? Hence 
it is, etc. -Rather lose all than lose one s soul. When 
Sunday comes, my dear brethren, leave everything in 
order to go to the confraternity. Be convinced that the 
Blessed Virgin will not allow you to suffer any loss on 
this account. It is said that her servants are clothed 
with double garments: All her domestics arc clothed with 
double garments. 1 This means that they are provided 
with two kinds of goods, spiritual and temporal. 

Besides the attendance at the meetings, I recommend 
to you not to omit confession and Communion, which 
the Rule prescribes ; otherwise, if you happen to fall 
into sin and remain in the same state, of what use will 
the confraternity be to you ? 

1 " Domestici ejus vestiti sunt duphcibus." Prov. xxxi. 21. 

Chap. VI IL //. The Confraternity. 259 

Finally, I recommend to you to come to the confra 
ternity for the sole purpose of attending to your devo 
tions. Let each one occupy his place, observe obedience, 
and fulfil the task that has been given to him, seeking 
only to save his soul in the confraternity. If you act in 
this way, you will see that the Mother of God will pro 
tect you, soul and body ; particularly at the hour of 
death will she assist you with maternal tenderness. 

Oh, how consoling it is at death to have served Mary ! 
Father Binet relates that a pious servant of the Blessed 
Virgin, whom he assisted in his last moments, said these 
words to him before dying. "O my Father! if you only 
knew what contentment I feel for having served the 
Mother of God ! I cannot express to you the joy that I 
experience at this moment." And he died in celestial 
peace. I believe that a death full of consolation is 
reserved specially for the members who frequent the 
confraternity. The Duke of Popoli said that all the 
graces that he had received from God had been given 
to him through the hands of Mary, because he had fre 
quented the confraternity. At the moment of death he 
called his son and said to him: "My son, frequent the 
confraternity of the Blessed Virgin ; it is the greatest 
inheritance that I can leave you ; it is that which I 
leave you." 

\ Now, my dear brethren, let us all prostrate ourselves 
at the feet of our Sovereign, and let us promise her not 
to neglect the confraternity; let each one repeat after 
me the following prayer : 

Ah ! my Queen and mother, I should now be in hell ; 
it is thou who through thy intercession hast hitherto pre 
served me from it : I thank thee to-day for this benefit, 
and I ask thy pardon for the number of times that I 
have without a reason neglected to attend the confra 
ternity. How many sins would I have avoided had I 

260 Exercises of the Missions. 

attended it ! Pardon me, O my Mother ! and pray thy 
divine Son to pardon me all the offences that I have 
given to him. Yes, O my Jesus ! by the blood that 
Thou hast shed for me, and also by the love of Mary, 
pardon me ; for I repent, etc. (Let us now make our 
promise by saying:) O Mother of God ! I promise thee 
that in future I will never without a good reason neglect 
any more the confraternity ; I promise this to thee, and 
I give my consent that thou shouldst punish me if I fail 
to keep it. And thou, my Queen, help me in all my 
necessities, and principally in all the dangers in which I 
shall find myself of offending God. Above all, O my 
tender Mother ! do not abandon me at the hour of 
death ; assist me at this decisive moment, and let me 
die under thy mantle. 

But you, my brethren, do not forget then to invoke 
her, and she will certainly come to your aid. Be, there 
fore, faithful to the promise that you have to-day made 
to Mary, and I promise you in her name that she will 
protect you during life and at your death. If you come 
to honor her in this chapel, she will one day lead you to 
paradise to reign there with her. Now I am going to 
bless you also in the name of Mary, in order that you 
may keep the promise that you have made to her. 
(Here the blessing is given with the crucifix.) 


It would also be of very great benefit to establish in 
honor of the Mother of God the SECRET CONFRATERNITY 
of the most fervent members. I will here briefly indi 
cate the exercises that are usually performed in the 
secret confraternities : i. A half-hour s spiritual read 
ing is made ; 2. The Vespers and Compline of the Holy 
Ghost are recited ; 3. The Litany of the saints is said, 
and the members appointed then perform some act of 
mortification, as the carrying of the cross on the shoul- 

Chap. VIIL ///. Discourse to Maidens, 261 

ders, and the like ; 4. A quarter of an hour s meditation 
on the Passion of Jesus Christ is made ; 5. Each one ac 
cuses himself of the faults committed against the rules, 
and receives a penance therefor from the Director ; 6 
A member appointed reads the nosegay of mortifications 
practised during the week, and announces the coming 
novenas, etc.; 7. Finally, the discipline is taken during 
a Miserere and a Salve Regina, and every one kisses the 
feet of the crucifix placed at the foot of the altar. 
As for the rules, the following are What the members 
should observe: i. Every day, mental prayer of half an 
hour, visit to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed 
Virgin, examination of conscience in the evening, spiri 
tual reading, recommendation to God of souls in purga 
tory and of sinners ; 2. The avoiding of plays and of 
worldly amusements; 3. Frequent Communion, and the 
practice of some mortification, as the cilicium^ the disci 
pline, etc.; 4. When a member becomes sick, all the rest 
are obliged to visit him.* 

The Discourse to Maidens. 

St. Ignatius, Martyr, writing to his disciples, exhorted 
them carefully to watch over the virgins, so that they 
might be constant in the promise that they had made to 
Jesus Christ of their virginity, which is so precious a gift 
before God. Virgins consecrated to the love of the di 
vine Spouse are called by St. Cyprian the most noble 
part of the Church. 1 Therefore, besides St. Cyprian, 
several among the holy Fathers, as St. Ephrem, St. Am 
brose, St. John Chrysostom, and others, have composed 
works that treat entirely of the praises of virginity. 
" Illustrior portio gregis Christi." De Discip. et Hub. Virg. 

* Further details in regard to confraternities may be found in the 
GLORIES OF MARY, Volume VIII., page 155. 

262 Exercises of the Missions. 

The glorious Apostle St. Matthew, as Denis the Carthu 
sian relates, did not wish to allow the virgin St. Iphi- 
genia, who was consecrated to Jesus Christ, to marry a 
monarch, although he promised to embrace the faith 
with all his people. Thomas Cantipratensis relates that 
at Rome the sister of the Count of Puglia, promised in 
marriage by his brother to a lord, fled in the disguise 
of a man so as not to be forced to marry ; but she was 
pursued by her brother, and overtaken near a rock that 
projected into the sea. Putting her confidence in God, 
she threw herself into the abyss, and afterwards walked 
upon the water as far as a desert in. Greece, where she 
remained safe. I wished to quote these examples to 
show that it is not a useless work, but a work that is 
very agreeable to God, when priests take care to exhort 
young persons to consecrate to Jesus Christ the lily of 
their virginity. This is the reason why in our missions 
it is customary, on the morning of one of the last days, 
that a missionary, assisted by another priest advanced 
in years, addresses in a retired place an instruction on 
this point -to all the young women. 


My dear sisters, I do not pretend to explain to you in 
this discourse all the merits and all the advantages ob 
tained by young maidens in consecrating their virginity 
to Jesus Christ. I will confine myself to pointing them 
out briefly. 

First, they become in the eyes of God beautiful as the 
angels of heaven : They shall be as the angels of God in 
heaven? Baronius 2 relates that at the death of a pious 
virgin, named Geogia, a great number of doves were 
seen flying about her ; and when her body was carried 
to the church, these doves placed themselves on the part 

1 " Erunt sicut Angeli Dei in coelo." Matt. xxii. 30. 
2 Ann. 480. 

Chap. VIII. ///. Discourse to Maidens. 263 

of the roof which corresponded to the place where the 
coffin was put, and flew away only after the burial of 
the deceased. Every one believed that these doves were 
angels, who thus honored her virginal body. 

Moreover, when a young person renounces the world 
and devotes herself to the love of Jesus Christ, she be 
comes the spouse of the Son of God. In the Gospel our 
Saviour is called now Father, now Mother, now Shepherd 
of Souls; but in regard to virgins he calls himself their 
Bridegroom or Spouse: They went out to meet their bride 
groom. 1 

A young person who wishes to establish herself in the 
world, if she is prudent, makes careful inquiries about 
those that aspire to her hand, and tries to know which 
among them is the noblest and richest. Let us, then, 
address ourselves to the Spouse of the Canticles, who 
knows very well the prerogatives of the divine Spouse, 
and let us ask him what he isi Tell me, O divine Spouse! 
what is he who loves thee and renders thee the most 
happy among all women ? My beloved is white and ruddy, 
chosen out of thousands? My beloved, she says, is all 
white by his purity, and is ruddy by the love with 
which he is inflamed ; he is, in a word, so beautiful, so 
noble, so affable, that one finds him to be the most 
amiable among all spouses. 

When to St. Agnes was offered as her spouse the son 
of the Prefect of Rome, this glorious virgin was right 
when she answered, as St. Ambrose tells us, that she 
had found a far better match. 3 

Such was also the answer of St. Domitilla, niece of 
the Emperor Domitian, which she gave to persons who 
tried to persuade her that she could be married to Count 

" Exierunt obviarn Sponso." Matt. xxv. i. 

2 " Dilectus meus candidus, et rubicundus, electus ex millibus." 
Cant. \. 10. 

" Sponsum offertis ; meliorem reperi." De Virg. 1. i. 

264 Exercises of the Missions. 

Aurelian, since he consented that she should remain a 
Christian: " But, tell me," she answered them, "if to a 
young woman there was presented, on the one hand, a 
great monarch, and on the other, a poor plebeian, which 
of the two would she choose for a husband ? To accept 
Aurelian, I should have to renounce the King of heaven; 
this would be folly, and I do not wish to be guilty of it." 
Hence in order to remain faithful to Jesus Christ, to 
whom she had consecrated her virginity, she gave her 
self up to be burnt alive a punishment to which her 
barbarous lover had condemned her. 1 

Generous souls who renounce the world for the love 
of Jesus Christ, become the cherished spouses of the Son 
of God. They are called First-fruits of the Lamb: First- 
fruits to God and to the Lamb? Why the First-fruits? 
Because, says Cardinal Hugo, as the first-fruits are 
more agreeable than others, so virgins are objects of 
the Lord s predilection. The divine Spouse is nour 
ished among the lilies: Who feedeth among the lilies. 
And what are these lilies, if not fervent souls who con 
secrate their virginity to Jesus Christ ? Venerable Bede 
assures us that the chant of the virgins, that is, the 
honor which the virgins render to God by preserving to 
him intact the lily of their purity, is more agreeable to 
the Lord than the chant of all the other saints. In fact, 
the Holy Ghost declares that no good can compensate 
for the merit of virginity. No price is worthy of a conti 
nent soul. For this reason, according to Cardinal Hugo, 
one can obtain a dispensation from all other vows, but 
not from the vow of virginity. It is also on this account 
that theologians believe that the Blessed Virgin would 

1 Croiset, Exerc. 12 Mai. 

2 " Primitise Deo et Agno." A foe. xiv. 4. 

3 " Qui pascitur inter lilia." Cant. iv. 16. 

4 " Omnis poqderatio non est digna continentis animae/ Ecclus. 
xxvi. 20. 

Chap. r//7. ///. Discourse to Maidens. 265 

have been disposed to renounce the sublime dignity of 
the Mother of God rather than lose the treasure of her 

Who then here below can ever comprehend the glory 
that God reserves in paradise for his chaste spouses ? 
Doctors teach that in heaven virgins have their own 
glory, which is a certain crown or a special joy, of which 
other holy souls are deprived. 

But let us pass to what directly refers to the subject 
that we actually have in view. 

A young person will say: If I marry can I not also 
sanctify myself?! wish you to hear the answer to this, 
not from my mouth, but from that of St. Paul; you will 
also see at the same time the difference between virgins 
and married persons. The following are the words of 
the Apostle: The unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh 
on the things of the Lord : that she may be holy both in body 
and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things 
of the^ivorld, how she may please her husband? Then he 
adds: This I speak for your profit: . . . for that which is 
decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord 
without impediment. 2 

Let us ponder well this advice of the Apostle. Tn the 
first place, I must remark that married women can, it is 
true, be holy in spirit but not in body, while a virgin 
that sanctifies herself is holy in spirit and in body, having 
consecrated to Jesus Christ her virginity: Holy both in 
body and in spirit. Note, moreover, these words: Which 
may give you power to attend upon the Lord without impedi 
ment. Ah ! how many obstacles have not married 

1 " Mulier innupta et virgo cogitat quse Domini sunt, ut sit sancta 
corpora et spiritu; quae autem nupta est, cogitat quae sunt mundi, 
quomodo placeat viro." i Cor. vii. 34. 

2 " Porro hoc ad utilitatem vestram dico, ... ad id quod honestum 
est, et quod facilitate m preheat sine impedimento Dominum obse- 
crandi." Ibid. vii. 35. 

266 Exercises of the Missions, 

women in order to sanctify themselves ! the higher 
their rank the greater obstacles do they encounter. In 
order to sanctify one s self one must use the means, es 
pecially apply one s self much to mental prayer, fre 
quent often the sacraments, and think without ceasing 
of God. But how can a married woman find time to 
occupy herself with the things of God ? She that is 
married thinks on the things of the world, how she may 
please her husband. She must, says St. Paul, occupy 
herself with the things of the world; she has to provide 
for the wants of her family, for food, for clothing; she 
has to watch over the education of her children, to 
please her husband and the relatives of her husband; 
and this will be the cause, adds the Apostle, why her 
heart will be divided, as she is obliged to divide her 
affections between her husband, her children, and God. 
How can a married woman devote herself much to mental 
prayer and go frequently to Holy Communion if she 
does not find enough at home to provide for the wants 
of her family ? The husband-wishes to be served; the 
children cry, scream, or ask for a thousand things; how 
can she go to make meditation amidst so many occupa 
tions and embarrassments ? It will hardly be permitted 
her to go to church to recollect herself and to receive 
Communion on Sundays. She will still have a good will; 
but it will be very difficult for her to attend to the things 
of God as she should. It is true that by this very pri 
vation she may gain merit by resigning herself to the 
will of God, who in this state requires of her only a con 
tinual sacrifice of resignation and of patience. But in 
the midst of so many distractions, of so much noise 
without meditation, without the sacraments, it will be 
morally impossible for her to have this heroic virtue of 
patience and resignation. 

Ah, would to God that married women would have 
nothing else to deplore than to be deprived of the time 

Chap. nil. IIL Discourse to Maidens. 267 

necessary to attend to their devotions ! The greatest 
evil is the danger in which these unfortunate persons 
continually find themselves of losing the grace of God, 
being obliged to see frequently their brothers-in-law or 
other relatives, or friends of their husband, either at 
home or elsewhere. Of this young persons are igno 
rant; but this is well known by married women, who are 
every day exposed to all these dangers, and is also well 
known by the confessors who hear them. We do not 
speak of the sad days which all married women must 
spend. The bad conduct of the husband, the disagree 
able things caused by the children, the necessities of 
housekeeping, dependence on a mother-in-law or sisters- 
in-law, the pains of child-birth that is always accom 
panied by danger of death, suspicions, troubles of con 
science in regard to the education of the children all 
"this forms a chain of tribulations in which married 
women can only lament, happy indeed if they do not 
lose their soul, and if God gives them the grace not to 
pass from the hell of this life to an eternal hell in the 
next. Such is the lot that awaits young women who 
give themselves up to the world. 

But you will say, Among all the married women are 
there none that have sanctified themselves ? I beg your 
pardon, there are some; but who are they ? Those that 
sanctify themselves by martyrdom, those that know 
how to suffer everything for God, with a patience that 
nothing can overcome. How many are there that rise 
to such perfection ? They are as rare as white flies. 
And if you meet with any one of these, you will learn 
that she is always weeping for regret of having entered 
the world, while she could have consecrated herself to 
Jesus Christ. For myself, I do not remember to have 
ever found among married women a single pious person 
who was content with her state of life. 

True happiness is therefore the inheritance of virgins 

268 Exercises of the Missions. 

consecrated to Jesus Christ. They are free from the 
dangers to which married persons are necessarily ex 
posed. Their affections are not fixed on children, nor 
on men of the world, nor on perishable goods, nor on 
vain ornaments, nor on any kind of dependence. While 
married women are obliged to adorn themselves with 
care, and at great expense, to appear in the world 
according to their rank and to please their husbands, a 
virgin consecrated to Jesus Christ needs to cover her 
self only with a garment, however common it may be; she 
would even create scandal if she dressed herself with 
elegance. Moreover, virgins are not troubled with the 
care of a house, a family, a husband; their sole concern, 
the only desire of their hearts, is to please Jesus Christ, 
to whom they have dedicated their souls, their bodies, 
and all their affections. Thus they have more liberty of 
spirit to think of God, and more time to give themselves 
up to prayer and the frequentation of the sacraments. 

But let us hear the excuses put forward by certain 
persons that have but little love for Jesus Christ. 

I would renounce the world, one says, if I could enter 
a convent, or at least if it were always permitted me to 
go to church to make my devotions there; but I cannot 
remain at home, or I have brothers who ill-treat me, and 
on the other hand, my relatives refuse to allow me to 
frequent the church. Before answering you, I shall put 
this question to you: Do you wish to leave the world 
to lead a comfortable life or to sanctify yourself; to do 
your will or that of Jesus Christ ? And if you wish to 
leave the world, to sanctify yourself, and to please Jesus 
Christ, I ask you a second question: Tell me: in what 
does sanctity consist? Sanctity does not consist in re 
maining in the convent, nor in spending the entire day 
in the church, but it consists, on the one hand, in prac 
tising mental prayer and going to communion when 
one can, and on the other, in obeying, in rendering one s 

Chap. VI I L ///. Discourse to Maidens. 269 

self useful to the house, in living in retirement, and in 
suffering pain and contempt for God. And if you were 
going to a convent, what, think you, would you do there ? 
Would you always be there in the choir, or in your cell, 
leaving it only in order to go to the refectory and to 
recreation ? In the convent there is no doubt a time 
fixed for meditation, for Mass, and for Communion; but 
after that, the religious must be employed in the service 
of the house, especially the lay-sisters, who, as they do not 
go to the choir, are engaged in work, and have conse 
quently less time to devote to prayer. All say, the con 
vent, the convent! Ah! pious persons who are poor 
have greater facility to devote themselves to prayer and 
to sanctify themselves in their own house than in the 
convent! How many are there who to my knowledge 
are sorry for having entered the convent, especially in 
certain houses where the community is large, and where 
the poor lay-sisters have scarcely time to say the Rosary. 
But you will reply: I have a father and a mother who 
have a disagreeable temper; I have at home impertinent 
brothers, who ill-treat me; I cannot remain there. 
Well, if you go out into the world, will you find no one 
to contradict you; no mother-in-law, no sisters-in-law, 
no children, no husband ? Ah! how infamous the treat 
ment on the part of husbands, who at first make fine 
promises, and afterwards are no longer husbands, but 
become the tyrants of their unfortunate wives, whom 
they treat no longer as their companions, but as slaves! 
Ask all married women whether what I say is not true; 
or rather, without making inquiries, have you not 
already learnt this truth from the example of your 
mothers? At least, when you have given yourselves to 
(rod, if you have to suffer at home, you bear all for the 
love of Jesus Christ, and the Lord well knows how to 
make your cross light and sweet; but what a pain to 
have to suffer, and to suffer for the world, without con- 

2 70 Exercises of the Missions. 

solation and without merit! Believe me, if Jesus calls 
you to his love, if he wishes you for his spouses, listen 
without fear to his voice; you will not fail to be con 
soled and even to rejoice in the midst of sufferings. 
This will, however, only be the case as long as you love 
him and conduct yourselves as his true spouses. 

Learn, then, what are the means that you should use 
so as to live as true spouses of Jesus Christ, and to at 
tain sanctity. 

In order that a virgin may be holy, it is not sufficient 
that she should preserve her virginity and that she be 
called a spouse of Jesus Christ: it will be necessary that 
she should practise the virtues that are proper to a 
spouse of Jesus Christ. We read in the Gospel l that 
heaven is like virgins; but what virgins ? no doubt wise, 
but not foolish, virgins. Wise virgins were led to the 
nuptials; but the foolish found the doors shut, and the 
Bridegroom said to them: I know you not: You are 
virgins, but I do not recognize you as my spouses. The 
true spouses of Jesus Christ follow their divine Spouse 
wherever he goes: These follow the Lamb whithersoever 
he goeth? What is it to follow the spouse? St. Augus 
tine 3 explains this to us: It is to imitate him by walk 
ing in his foosteps in body and in soul. After having 
consecrated to him your body, you must give him your 
whole heart, so that your heart may be entirely occu 
pied in loving him. 

i. The first means is mental prayer, to which you 
should particularly apply yourselves. But do not be 
lieve that in order to make mental prayer it is necessary 
to be in the convent or to spend the entire day in the 
church. It is true that at home there is often noise, and 
there is much disturbance caused by persons who come 

1 Matt. xxv. I. 

- Sequuntur agnum quocumque ierit. " Apoc. xiv. 4. 

2 DC S. Virginit. c 27. 

Chap. VI I L ///. Discourse to Maidens. 271 

and go; however, if one wishes one can always find a 
place and a time for devoting one s self to prayer, as 
when the house is more quiet, either in the morning be 
fore others rise, or in the evening after they have re 
tired. Nor is it necessary, in order to pray, that one 
should always be on one s knees: one may meditate 
even while working or while walking, when there is no 
other more suitable time; it is sufficient if one occupies 
one s self with God, as when one reflects on the Passion 
of Jesus Christ or on some other pious subject. 

2. The second means is the frequentation of the 
sacraments of confession and Communion. For con 
fession we should choose a Director to whom we should 
be entirely submissive; without doing so we should not 
walk on the right road. As for Communion, it must 
depend entirely on obedience; but we must desire it and 
ask for it. This divine bread needs a soul that hungers 
after it; Jesus Christ wishes us to have a longing for 
him. It is frequent Communion that makes the spouses 
of Jesus Christ faithful to this heavenly Spouse, particu 
larly in keeping them in holy purity. The Blessed 
Sacrament preserves in the soul all the virtues; but it is 
especially effective in preserving intact the lily of vir 
ginity, according to the words of the Prophet, who calls 
it: The corn of the chosen ones, and wine ivhicli maketh vir 
gins to spring forth. 

3. The third means is retirement and vigilance. The 
divine Spouse compares his well-beloved to a lily sur 
rounded by thorns: As the lily among thorns, so is My love 
among daughters? If a virgin wishes to live in the midst 
of society, of amusements, and other worldly frivolities, 
it will be impossible for he r to remain faithful to Jesus 
Christ; she must, therefore, keep herself constantly 

" Frumentum electorum et vinum germinans virgines." Za..h. ix, 

" Sicut lilium inter spinas, sic arnica mea inter filias." Cant. il. 2. 

272 Exercises of the Missions. 

among the thorns of obedience and of mortification, and 
should behave, especially towards men, not only with 
the greatest reserve and the greatest modesty in her 
looks and her words, but also when necessary with a rigid 
austerity, and even with rudeness. Such are the thorns 
that preserve lilies, that is, virgins; without these pre 
cautions they would soon go astray. The Lord also 
compares the beauty of his spouse to that of the turtle 
dove: Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle-dove s} Why ? 
Because the turtle-dove is naturally inclined to flee the 
company of other birds, and loves to be always alone. 
A virgin, therefore, appears beautiful in the eyes of 
Jesus Christ when she leads a retired life, and does all 
she can to keep herself retired and hidden from the eyes 
of others. St. Jerome says that this Spouse of souls is 
jealous. 2 Hence it is very displeasing to him to see a 
virgin, after having consecrated herself to his love, 
seeking to appear in the world and to please men. 
Those persons that are truly virtuous prefer to disfigure 
themselves rather than be the object of a bad desire. 
The venerable Sister Catharine of Jesus, before be 
coming a religious of St. Teresa, washed herself with 
dirty water, and then exposed herself to the sun so as 
to spoil her complexion. Bollandus 3 relates that St. 
Andregesina, having been promised in marriage, begged 
the Lord to make her quite deformed, and her prayer 
was immediately heard. She at once appeared covered 
with leprosy so that every one fled from her; but after 
the espousals had been dissolved, she recovered her 
former beauty. We read in the Mirror of Examples, 
that there was in a convent a young virgin who had 
consecrated herself to God, and whose eyes had charmed 
a prince. The latter having threatened to set fire to the 

1 " Pulchra sunt gense tuse sicut turturis.* Cant. i. 9. 

2 " Zelotypus est Jesus." Ep. ad Eust. 

3 Vita S. Ansb. g. febr. 

Chap. VIILHL Discourse to Maidens. 273 

convent if she did not yield to his desires, what did she 
do ? She tore out her eyes, and sent them to him in a 
basin with this message: " Here are the darts that have 
wounded your heart ; take them, and leave me un 
touched." The same author also quotes the example of 
St. Euphemia, whom her father had promised in mar 
riage to a count. Seeing that this suitor neglected no 
means to make her his wife, she one day took a knife 
and cut off her nose and her lips, saying: " Vain beauty, 
thou shalt not be to me any longer an occasion of sin!" 
Baronius also relates that St. Ebba, abbess of the mon 
astery of Coldingham, fearing an invasion of the bar 
barians, cut off her nose and her upper lip as far as the 
teeth, and that after her example all the other religious, 
to the number of thirty, did the same thing. The bar 
barians actually came, and seeing them thus disfigured, 
they became furious, set fire to the monastery, and made 
all perish in the flames. The Church honors them as 
martyrs. They were incited to this heroic act by an 
impulse of the Holy Ghost ; it is not permitted to others 
to act in this way. You see, moreover, in these examples 
what virgins who love Jesus Christ have done in order 
to escape the lust of men. Every fervent young maiden 
should at least endeavor to conduct herself with modesty, 
and expose herself as little as possible to the gaze of the 
world. If it should unfortunately happen that a virgin 
should be the victim of any violence, without her fault, 
let her be assured that her purity has not been tarnished. 
Hence St. Lucia answered the tyrant, who threatened to 
have her dishonored: " If I am outraged against my will, 
I shall obtain a double crown." We know the adage : 
"Not the feeling, but the consent, wounds the soul." 
Besides, you must be convinced that a young maiden 
who conducts herself with modesty and reserve will not 
fail to make herself respected. 

1 Anno 870, n. 39. 

274 Exercises of the Missions. 

4. The fourth means in order to preserve purity is the 
mortification of the senses. St. Basil says: "It is alto 
gether improper fora virgin to violate chastity, with the 
tongue, with the ears, with the touch, much less with 
the heart." 1 A virgin, in order to remain pure, should 
be chaste with her tongue, by always speaking modestly, 
and only through necessity with men, and in this case 
in a few words ; chaste with her cars, by avoiding to 
listen to discourses about the things of the world ; 
chaste with her eyes, by keeping them shut or lowered to 
the ground in the presence of men ; chaste with regard 
to the touch, by using the greatest precaution both in 
regard to others and in regard to herself; but she should 
be especially chaste in her heart by trying to resist every 
immodest thought by promptly having recourse to Jesus 
and Mary. For this purpose it will also be necessary 
for her to mortify her body by fasts, by abstinence, by 
disciplines, by ciliciums ; but in order to practise these 
mortifications permission from the confessor must be 
asked : without this they would be rather hurtful to the 
soul, as they might inspire one with pride. No one 
should therefore practise such penances without having 
obtained permission from one s Director; but one should 
desire the permission and ask it, for Directors do not 
grant it as long as" we do not show them a desire to ob 
tain it. Jesus is a Spouse of blood ; he has espoused 
our souls on the cross, on which he has shed the last 
drop of his blood: A bloody spouse thou art to me? This is 
the reason why spouses that love him love to suffer 
tribulations, diseases, pains, ill-treatment, injuries, and 
they receive them not only with patience, but with joy. 
In this sense the passage of Scripture is understood, 
namely: These follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth? 

" Nulla in parte moechari convenit virginem, non lingua, non aure, 
non oculo, non tactu, multoque minus animo." De Vera Virg. 

" Sponsus sanguinum tu mihi es." Exod. iv. 25. 

" Sequuntur Agnum quocumque ierit." A foe. xiv. 4. 

Chap. VIIL ///. Discourse to Maidens. 275 

They follow Jesus their divine Spouse by singing his 
praises with joy, even in the midst of reproaches and 
pains, after the example of so many holy martyrs who 
expressed their happiness amid tortures, or while they 
were on their way to the place of execution. 

5. Finally, in order to obtain the grace of perseverance 
in a holy life, you should take care often to recommend 
yourselves to the Queen of heaven, the most pure 
Mother of God. She is the mediatress who prepares 
and who concludes the union of souls with her divine 
Son ; it is she that introduces and presents them to him 
as his spouses: After her shall virgins be brought to the 
King It is she, finally, that obtains for these chosen 
spouses the virtue of perseverance ; without the help of 
Mary they would become so many faithless spouses. 


(The preacher, after having made all his hearers go 
down on their knees at the foot of the crucifix, or a 
statue of the Infant Jesus, which would suit better 
under the circumstances, thus continues:) 

You, then, who are listening to me I am addressing 
myself to young maidens who feel themselves called by 
the divine Spouse to renounce the world for the love of 
him you who have conceived the pious design of not 
belonging to the world, but to Jesus Christ, I do not 
wish that you should on this very day make this vow, 
and that you should contract immediately the engage 
ment to keep perpetual chastity; you should make this 
vow when God inspires you and when you have obtained 
for this purpose the consent of your confessor. I wish 
only that by a simple act, without contracting any obli 
gation, you should render thanks to Jesus Christ for the 
favor that he has done you of having called you to his 
love, and that you should offer yourselves to belong 

1 " Adducentur Regi virgines post earn." Ps. xliv. 15. 

276 Exercises of the Missions. 

entirely to him during your whole life. Speak to him 
in the following manner : 

Ah ! my Jesus, my God and my Redeemer, who didst 
die for me; pardon me if I also call Thee my Spouse : I 
am bold enough to do so, because I see that Thou 
deignest to invite me to this honor ; it is a favor for 
which I know not how to thank Thee. At present I 
deserve to be in hell, and instead of punishing me Thou 
wishest me to become Thy spouse. Yes, my divine 
Spouse, I renounce the world, I renounce everything 
for love of Thee, and I give myself entirely to Thee. 
What is the world to me? My Jesus, Thou shalt hence 
forth be my only good, my only love. I see that Thou 
wishest to possess my whole heart; I wish to give it to 
Thee entirely: please accept my offering; do not repel 
me as I deserve to be repelled. Forget all the dis 
pleasure that I have given Thee in the past ; I repent 
of it with my whole soul ; ah ! would that I had died 
before offending Thee ! Pardon me, inflame me with 
Thy holy love, and grant me the grace to be faithful to 
Thee, and never more to turn my back on Thee. Thou, 
my Spouse, hast given Thyself entirely to me ; here I 
am, I give myself entirely to Thee. 

O Mary, my Queen and my Mother ! bind, chain my 
heart to Jesus Christ, and attach it in such a manner 
that it may never be separated from him. 

(At the end, the preacher gives them the blessing with 
the crucifix, saying:) 

Now I am going to bless you, and by this blessing I 
wish to unite you to Jesus Christ in order that you may 
never more leave him; and while I am blessing you, you 
should give him your heart, saying : 

My Jesus, my divine Spouse, in future I will love Thee, 
Thee alone, and nothing more. 

Chap. IX. Exercises after the j\Iission. /. 277 



Exercises to be Performed by the People. 

i. WE should recommend to the people meditation in 
common in the church ; ! this can be more easily done 
in the morning during the first Mass in the following 
manner: A priest or a cleric, before the beginning of 
Mass, reads at first the preparatory acts mentioned in 
the book, then a short point of meditation, and the Mass 
begins immediately, the people continuing to meditate 
on the point that has been read; after the consideration 
another point is read; and at the end of Mass the Chris 
tian Acts, which are also found in the book, are recited. 

It must be remarked that the priest who presides at 
the meditation should read and not dictate it. It is 
true that many priests would have the talent to develop 
the subject of meditation ; but if one adopted this 
method, two inconveniences would result therefrom. 
The first is that the priest who dictates the meditation 
would be easily led to speak the whole time, and the peo 
ple would thus become accustomed, not to meditate, but 
to listen; so that if any one should not be able to come to 
the church, and should have no one to dictate the medi 
tation, not knowing how to meditate by himself, he 
would do nothing. The second inconvenience is that 
this priest will not be able, nor would he be willing, to 
1 See what is said on this subject, page 231, and seq. 

278 Exercises of the Missions. 

be always present at the exercise, and if he were absent, 
this useful devotion would not take place. This has 
occurred in certain places where a priest had begun to 
dictate every day the meditation for the people ; but 
afterwards, either because he found the number that 
attended too small, or because he grew tired of such an 
office, he omitted it, and thus the meditation in common 
was given up. The meditation should, therefore, be 
read, and be read in a loud voice and with pauses, so 
that all may hear it and understand it. Moreover, it is 
strongly recommended never to omit this pious and use 
ful exercise, even when only a few persons attend, as 
very often happens ; it suffices if one sees some of the 
faithful persevere in this exercise. 

2. The visit to the Blessed Sacrament should be recom 
mended ; it is made in the following manner: A priest, 
vested in surplice and stole, exposes the Ciborium before 
six burning candles, and then reads the Christian Acts, 
such as are found in the little book composed for this 
exercise. It will be well to make this visit about sunset, 
when the people have returned from the fields. After 
this the acts are read out of the book composed for this 
purpose. 1 

3. The devotion of visiting the crosses should also be 
recommended. 2 

4. One should recommend devotion for the dying, namely, 
when a person of the place is in his agony: this should be 
announced by five strokes of the large bell, and every 
one should recite a Pater and an Ave for the happy pas 
sage of this soul into eternity. 

5. One should recommend the pious exercises for young 
women to be performed every Sunday in some church or 
chapel, in the following manner : 

At first the Rosary is recited, and is concluded by the 

1 The Acts are to be found at the end of this work. 

2 See page 247. 

Chap. IX. Exercises after the ^Mission. /. 279 

singing of a pious hymn. Then the priest, who has 
been appointed, gives a short instruction on all that 
those present have to practise during the week, accord 
ing to the rules given afterwards. He then teaches 
them how they should make mental prayer, the acts for 
Communion, for the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, for 
the Mass, and even for the time of work ; how they 
should frequently raise their mind to God. He also 
instructs them on the virtues, mortification, humility, 
patience, and particularly prayer ; how they should 
recommend themselves to God, in the morning, the 
evening, during the day, and especially in temptations, 
by often invoking the holy names of Jesus and Mary 
until the temptation ceases. 

After this instruction the Rosary of the sorrows of the 
Blessed Virgin is recited. A conclusion is made by a 
little sermon or a short meditation, which lasts only a 
quarter of an hour, inclusively of the act of contrition. 
The matter of the discourse, or meditation, should usu 
ally be sin, death, judgment, hell, paradise, eternity, or 
the Passion of Jesus Christ. 

The discourse finished, all those present are sent to 
make together a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and to 
the Blessed Virgin ; after this they return home. The 
whole exercise should not last longer than an hour and 
a half. 

The preacher will appoint two of the older members, 
who shall have the care of the -others, shall see that the 
recitation of the Rosary is begun, and also who are ab 
sent, so as to give information of such absence to their 
parents. He will also appoint two others to act as over 
seers, whose duty it will be to notify the authorities if 
any one should behave badly, that thus she may be cor 

280 Exercises of the Missions. 




1. In the morning, on rising, she should thank the 
Lord, then make an offering of all that she is to do and 
to suffer during the day; then she shall say three " Hail 
Marys," that the Blessed Virgin may keep her under 
her protection during the day and preserve her from 
every sin. 

2. She should make mental prayer during half an hour, 
or at least a quarter of an hour, on the Passion of Jesus 
Christ or on the eternal truths, and this at the time and 
at the place most suitable for her either in the church 
or at home. 

3. She should hear Mass every time that she is able, 
and make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, if not in the 
church, at least at home. 

4. In the evening she should make the examination 
of conscience with the Christian Acts, of faith, hope, 
charity, and contrition ; and before going to bed, she 
should again place herself under the protection of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, by saying three "Hail Marys." 

5. She should receive Communion every Sunday, and 
oftener if she can, but always in accordance with the 
advice of her spiritual Father. 

6. In honor of Mary she should recite every day five 
decades of the Rosary ; she should fast every Saturday 
on bread and water, or as well as she can, and during 
the novenas of the seven feasts of the Blessed Virgin, 
according as the preacher may direct. 

7. She should try always to lead a retired life, avoid 
going to banquets, to festivals, and frequenting the 
houses of others, even of relatives. She should flee as 
from death the danger that is to her of joking and 
laughing with men ; if through necessity she must 

Chap. IX. Exercises after tJie Mission. //. 281 

speak to them, she should do so in a few words and 
with her eyes cast down. She should never remain at 
the window or be seated at the door of the house, and 
should never sing profane songs. 

8. She should keep silence in the church and in the 
streets ; she should even keep silence for an hour when 
at. home. 

9. She should dress modestly, wearing a garment of a 
dark color and a veil when she goes to church or walks 
the streets. She should wear neither gold nor jewels, 
nor any other object of vanity. 

10. She should avoid every venial sin committed 
wilfully, especially lies, imprecations, and acts of im 
patience. She should patiently bear sufferings, injuries, 
and all contradictions, and then say: My Jesus, may all 
be for Thee. Mary, my Mother, give me patience. May 
God sanctify me ! etc. 

n. She "should obey her confessor in all that regards 
her soul, and her parents in whatever regards the gov 
ernment of the house. I said: "The government of the 
house;" for if her parents wished to marry her by force, 
she would not be obliged to obey. 

12. At the death of any member who has frequented 
the exercises, all the others should offer up for her five 
Communions, and say the Rosary for her for a week. 


The Exercises that are to be Recommended to the Priests. 

As for the priests of the place, we should recommend 
to them, chiefly, the frequentation of their Congregation, 
at which, first, a quarter of an hour s spiritual reading 
should be made, then a quarter of an hour s meditation; 
afterwards a case of conscience is proposed. It would 
also be well for the instruction of young ecclesiastics to 
exercise them in preaching sermons, or instructions, or 

282 Exercises of tJie Missions. 

exhortations, which are to be given at Christmas or dur 
ing Passion week. At least, the conference of cases of 
conscience should not be omitted, and should be given 
in the following manner : First, he who has been ap 
pointed shall propose come question and give the rea 
sons for and against, and conclude by expressing his 
own opinion; then the others shall bring forward their 
own views and raise difficulties. 

Besides this exercise of the Congregation, an effort 
should be made to establish, if possible, an academia for 
moral cases, in which, two or three times a week, every 
one in his turn shall explain a treatise, so that when one 
has finished, another may begin ; the most important 
treatise may thus be discussed, for example: De Restitu- 
tione, de Contractibus, de Pcenitentia, de Matrimonio, de 
Censuris, de Conscientia, de. Lcgibus, de Prceceptis Decalogi, 
etc. Tt is certain that we learn much more in these con 
ferences than in ail the studies to which we apply our 
selves in our rooms. The fact is, Moral Theology is a 
science so vast and so complicated that he that studies 
it by himself without discussing it with others reads 
much, but will retain little. In the academia, however, 
not only are the principles learnt better, but they are 
better impressed upon the mind, and by thus applying 
themselves many priests render themselves capable of 
assisting souls and avoiding at the same time idleness, 
which usually is the cause that leads so many secular 
priests astray. 

It is also to be recommended to parish priests, and to 
other capable priests, to preach every Saturday evening, 
in honor of the Blessed Virgin, a little sermon, which is 
to be concluded by the narration of some grace granted 
by the Blessed Virgin to her servants, with a prayer at 
the end asking for her protection. Moreover, we should 
also recommend that the priests should make every year, 
on some feast of Mary, a solemn novena, with exposition 

Chap. IX, Exercises after the Mission. //. 283 

of the Blessed Sacrament and sermon every day of the 
novena. The priests should keep before their minds the 
promises made by this divine Mother to those that seek 
to honor her, according to what is read in her Office: 
They that work by me, shall not sin. They that explain me, 
shall have life everlasting? 

"Qui operantur in me, nnn peccabunt. Qui elucidant me, vitam 
seternam habebunt." Ecclus. xxiv. 30. 

284 Exercises of the Missions. 



I. WHEN several villages happen to be situated at a 
short distance from one another, there are Superiors 
who are accustomed to give a mission in a church that 
occupies a central position, imagining that the people 
of the surrounding places will attend this mission, and 
thus a single mission will suffice for all the villages to 
gether. In this way these Superiors reason, and act 

For myself, I say that such a mission will not be of 
use to any of the neighboring villages; it will hardly be 
of benefit to the place where it is given; and even for 
the latter it can have but little success on account of the 
confusion and the concourse of inhabitants from other 
places ; for if only a few people were to come from the 
different villages, they would form a large number, but 
usually very little fruit would be produced. Missions 
of this kind would serve only for the purpose of being 
able to say that a mission has been given in those places; 
but to tell the truth, one should say that none has been 
given. The following are my reasons: The fruit derived 
by the people in attending the mission consists in hear 
ing the sermons, and in hearing all or nearly all of them 
in the order in which they are preached in the missions. 
This series of sermons on the eternal truths, namely, the 
importance of salvation, the malice of sin, final impeni 
tence, etc., with the four Last Things, is that which 
makes, so to speak, a powerful assault Upon souls 
plunged in the mire of sin, and gains them to Jesus 


Chap. X. Remarks about the Missions. 285 

Christ. Now when the mission is given in a church for 
several of the neighboring places, it happens that the 
greater part of those that come from the surrounding 
villages do not hear all the sermons; they scarcely hear 
two or three of them; for as the mission is given outside 
of their place, they attend it, each one in his turn, so as 
not to leave their homes without protection; and then, in 
order to be soon enough back to their homes, those that 
come from afar often leave the sermon at the most im 
portant part of it. Moreover, such a mission is profita 
ble to the devout souls of those places, but not to others, 
who, however, stand most in need of it ; for having 
troubled consciences, and feeling a repugnance for the 
word of God, they easily dispense themselves from going 
to the mission, alleging various excuses, such as: It is 
too far, the sermon is over too late, it is cold, the church 
is small, etc. But when the mission is given in the 
place itself, and all attend it, men and women, sinners 
will also attend, although they will do so with repug 
nance; yet they will do so through human respect, in 
order that others may not point their finger at them. 
They will attend, and God will touch their hearts, as 
frequently happens in the missions. 

From all this I conclude that it is better to give the 
mission separately in every village, even if this cannot 
be done in the same year; for in those places where it is 
given, every one will profit by it, and especially those 
that need it most. As for the other villages, it may, at 
least, be hoped that emulation will prompt the people 
also to procure for themselves during the subsequent 
years the benefit of a mission ; then, finally, it will not 
be said that all have received this benefit, when in reality 
they did not receive it. 

Moreover, when a mission is to be given in some city 
or village, the population of which is very large, especi 
ally if many of the habitations are far distant from the 

286 Exercises of the Missions. 

principal church, and more so if this church cannot hold 
all the people, it will be well, and even necessary, to give 
several missions at the same time in different churches. 
This is what we have done with great fruit in several 
cities, as at Nola, Sarno, etc.; particularly at Foggia and 
at Salerno, where, besides the mission at the cathe 
dral, five other missions were given in as many differ 
ent churches. To proceed with order, the following- 
method has been followed : At first the mission is 
begun in the principal church, in which it should last at 
least for two weeks ; during this mission, eight or ten 
days after it has been begun, a feast day is chosen to 
open the little missions, the exercises of which should 
continue for about twelve days. Experience has proved 
that these small missions have sometimes been more 
successful than the large missions. 

II. The Superior should take care that in each mission 
there be a sufficient number of missionaries to hear the 
confessions, according to the population of the place; 
for it should be borne in mind that the principal fruit of 
the missions, above all in country places where there are 
few confessors, and where the latter belong to the place 
itself, consists in repairing many of the sacrilegious or 
invalid confessions, on account of the great repugnance 
that penitents feel of making known their miseries to 
one whom they know, and whom they see every day. 
Monsignor Falcoia, Bishop of Castellamara, who for 
merly belonged to the Institute of Pious Workers, and 
who was the first director of our Congregation,* said 
that after having spent forty years in the missions when 
in certain places there are few missionaries, the mission 
is conducive to the ruin rather than to the saving of 

* That is, this worthy prelate was the spiritual director of the 
Founder, who took care to take counsel of him in all the affairs of his 
Institute. (Villecourt, 1. r, ch. 21, and 1. 2, ch. 17.) We see here the 
humility of the saint. ED. 

Chap. X. Remarks about the Missions. 287 

souls. He does not speak thus without a reason; for 
the exercises of the mission rouse consciences, and those 
that before were quiet and in good faith, after having 
heard the instructions and the sermons, begin to have a 
thousand doubts. Now if these souls have not the op 
portunity to confide their scruples, of which they feel 
ashamed, to strange confessors v since they feel a repug 
nance to manifest them to those of the place, and find 
themselves in bad faith on account of the doubts that 
they now have, they will make sacrilegious confessions, 
and will lose their souls in consequence of the mission. 

For myself, in the missions that I had to conduct 
when I had not a number of missionaries in proportion 
to that of the faithful of the place, I found it better not 
to give the mission, and to give it at another place for 
which the number of confessors was sufficient; for when 
it becomes necessary to call the resident priests to hear 
confessions, all or most of the sacrileges that exist will 
continue to exist. If many souls, overcome by shame, 
continuetoconfess sacrilegiously when even confessingto 
us missionaries, although we do not know them, and we 
are soon to leave them, what hopes will there be that they 
will rid themselves of their shame when they confess to 
the same confessors of the place or of the neighborhood 
that know them ? One cannot say that these persons, 
having then an opportunity to confess to strangers, will 
leave those of the place; for while seeing their ordinary 
confessor in the confessional, they will feel too great a 
repugnance to allow themselves to be seen going to a 
stranger, and they thus continue to commit sacrileges. 

It is, therefore, always expedient for the bishop to 
suspend from the power of hearing confessions during 
the mission all the priests of the place where the mission 
is given. If the bishop does not do this, let at least the 
missionary who gives the exercises to the priests beg 
the confessors of the place to be kind enough to allow 

288 Exercises of the Missions. 

their penitents during this time the liberty of confessing 
to the missionaries, and even to impose this upon them 
by virtue of obedience, because it is not a rare thing 
that persons of whom one thinks the least are precisely 
those that need this the most. 

Our confessors should here take notice that, although 
it is not necessary to have every one to make a general 
confession, especially if one is pressed for time, and a 
large number of persons must confess, yet, when the 
penitent asks to make a general confession, there being 
a necessity of making it, because the preceding con 
fessions were sacrilegious or invalid, one should allow 
them to make it by distinguishing the species and the 
number of sins as exactly as one can. If one, however 
does not see that the preceding confessions have been 
certainly null, one should permit the penitent to say 
what he wishes, and should afterwards put this .question 
to him: Well, now, do you accuse yourself of all the 
sinful thoughts, words, etc., which you committed from 
your youth ? But one should take care to let him say 
so; otherwise not receiving the satisfaction that he ex 
pected in making a general confession, he will, as often 
happens, go to other missionaries, and much time will 
be lost. 

The missionaries should, finally, observe that during 
the mission, especially when there is a great concourse 
at the confessionals, it is not necessary to stop too long 
to examine and to instruct devout souls in the matter 
of advancing in perfection. This is not the opportune 
moment to occupy one s self with the care of such a 
thing, when other souls are waiting to be delivered from 
the miserable state of damnation in which they find 

III. During the sermon, and even during the instruc 
tion, it would be well if one ceased to hear confessions, 
first, because the noise that is made by the preacher s 

Chap. X. Remarks about the A fissions. 289 

voice will prevent the confessor from hearing the words 
of the penitent, and the penitent from hearing the 
words of the confessor; so that the confessions take up 
twice the usual time, and also leave behind them trouble 
and disquietude. Moreover, in order that the mission 
may produce its fruit, it is necessary for every one to 
hear the great or principal sermon, which is its most 
important exercise. Now when confessions are heard 
during the sermon, it happens that this exercise is lost, 
not only to the persons that confess, but also to all 
those that surround the confessional, and who, desirous 
of confessing soon, will think only of entering the con 
fessional as soon as possible; thus preoccupied, they 
pay but little attention to the sermon. Hence for one 
person that is confessing, there are twenty or thirty 
others who, while waiting for their turn, lose the fruit 
of the sermon; and besides, by the noise that they make 
in entering the confessional, they disturb the preacher 
and the whole audience. 

IV. Before beginning the mission we should obtain 
from the bishop all the powers necessary for producing 
fruit, as the power of absolving cases reserved to the 
bishop, either Nobis or A nobis, also with the censure, as 
also the communication of the chapter Liccat, and the 
faculty of dispensing from vows, oaths, and impediments 
of marriage. Moreover, no mission should be accepted 
except at the request of the inhabitants of the place, or 
at least of the parish priest. 

V. The mission usually lasts twelve days, of which 
the first eight are devoted to moral sermons and the 
Last Things, the three following days to the exercise of 
a devout life and the last to the blessing. In small 
places it lasts at least ten days, of which seven are for 
the sermons, two for the exercise, and the last for the 
blessing. But in large places, with a population of four 
thousand or more souls, the mission should be prolonged 
1 9 

290 Exercises of the Missions. 

as long as it is necessary; it has happened to us that we 
continued it for eighteen, twenty-four, and even thirty- 
six days, as at Foggia. In a word, the Superior should 
see that the mission be continued till he can prudently 
judge that all the faithful have had time to confess. 

VI. It must be remarked that the missions should not 
be renewed too frequently in the same place; it is ex 
pedient that they be given at an interval of at least 
three or four years. If in the second mission one does 
not see the minds of the people as much moved as they 
were in the first mission it does not follow that it is less 
fruitful. When a mission is given in a place where 
there has been none for a number of years, it always 
produces a more lively impression than a second one 
given at an interval of three or four years; but if the 
minds are less moved, the fruit derived is often greater: 
those that have relapsed into sin enter again the right 
path; and those that have persevered are confirmed 
more in that which is good. 

VII. In conclusion, I find it proper to quote some 
other excellent counsels, which the venerable Father 
Segneri, the great missionary of Italy, has left for the 
good direction of missions and of missionaries. 

1. The confessions of women should be heard only in 
the confessionals. 

2. Public confessions, especially of women, should not 
be permitted. Nor should enemies be allowed to ask 
the pardon of their adversaries before the parties have 
been well disposed for reconciliation. 

3. The confessors should not without necessity charge 
themselves with making personally restitution for their 
penitents; and in the case in which the latter would not 
intrust the matter to others, one should at least take 
care to procure a receipt from him to whom the restitu 
tion is made. 

4. Without some special necessity, one should avoid 


Chap. X. Remarks about the Missions. 291 

collecting alms for the poor; also one should accept no 
money to distribute as alms, as this gives rise to troubles 
and to calumnies. I add that one should also avoid 
meddling in certain temporal affairs, which, although 
useful to some, may injure or displease others; for this 
may be the cause of wicked talk and destroy for many 
the fruits of the mission. 

5. The missionaries should not disperse among the 
different houses to take their meals or their rest. 

6. The mission finished, they should depart immedi 
ately and refuse every invitation to remain in order to 
rest themselves. 

7. They should not trouble themselves if they see 
that obstacles are being put in the way to hinder the 
success of the mission, and they should not be dis 
couraged if at the beginning they meet with a poor re 
ception, for they should rest assured that in the end 
they will win the affection of all. 

8. As a reward for all their labors and all their suffer 
ings, they should expect (admirable advice) on the part 
of men, contempt, detraction, and ingratitude; for this 
is the usual reward of those that labor only for the 
glory of God 

292 Exercises of the Missions. 



i. ON arriving at the place where the mission is to be 
given, the Superior fixes the hours of the exercises and 
of all other matters, in the following manner: * Leaving 
the house in the morning at 13 o clock; return home at 
19 o clock (midday). Instruction and catechism (these 
two exercises begin at the same time), at 22 o clock. 
Sermon at 23 o clock. Supper at 3.30. Examination of 
conscience before going to bed at 4.30. Retiring at 
5 o clock. 

Such is the time-table that is usually followed during 
winter, which is besides the season most suitable for 
missions. I use the word usually, for when there is a 
concourse of penitents, we remain in the confessional 
for seven hours in the morning, our custom being not 
to hear confessions in the afternoon, and no missionary 
can leave the church without the permission of the 
Superior. I have also used the words during winter ; 
for in spring there are not seven hours of sleep, but six, 
or at least six and a half, because then we have an hour 
or an hour and a half of sleep after dinner. At this 
season we rise at about 8 o clock, and we go to bed at 
night at i or at 1.30 o clock; half an hour having elapsed 
after rising, we go at once to the church, the meditation 
at this time of the year following the rest given after 

* The hours here mentioned are after the Italian usage; twenty-four 
o clock finishes, and one o clock begins about half an hour after sunset. 
See this subject treated more fully in the note, page 269 of Volume 
XI. ED. 

Chap. XL Duties of the Superior. 293 

dinner. In winter after the half-hour given for rising, 
and during which all should observe silence, we make a 
half-hour s meditation, which should never be omitted; 
then we go at once to the church. 

At table when all are seated in order, silence is always 
observed, and the Life of a saint is read, the Superior 
beginning by reading a little, and the others continuing 
the same one after the other. In the evening, however, 
it suffices if one of the missionaries reads a little while 
out of a book treating of the Blessed Virgin. 

As regards the food, it must be observed that nothing 
edifies the people so much as the mortification and the 
frugality of the missionaries, while on the contrary 
nothing scandalizes them more than when they see men 
treating themselves well in regard to eating and drink 
ing. During the mission the people are always curious 
to know what the missionaries eat; and in certain places 
where a mission had been given several years before, 
we have found persons who related with indignation 
that the missionaries had themselves well treated by 
living on fowl, choice fruit, with foreign winfes, and the 
like. In another place of this kingdom a mission was 
given by good preachers and good confessors; but I was 
told that very little good was done, because the mis 
sionaries had a first-class table. Hence in our missions 
it is an established rule, -that atdinneron days on which 
flesh-meat is allowed there is to be given only soup with 
boiled meat, and on fasting-days soup with another 
frugal portion; at supper, salad and other similar food, 
with a little cheese and fruit. Only on the last day, the 
day of the blessing, there may be more food, but never 
fowl, game, choice fish, pastry, or other sweetmeats. 
The subjects should wait at table, each one in his turn, 
according as they are appointed by the Father Econome. 

After dinner and after supper there will be a half- 
hour s recreation. As soon as the time of recreation has 

294 Exercises of t lie Missions. 

passed, the missionaries are exhorted to cease their 
pleasantries and all useless discourse, and each one 
should attend to the duties of his employment; those 
that are free should occupy themselves with hearing 
confessions till the hour of instruction, of prayer, or of 
study. During the instruction and the sermon those 
that have some exercise to give on the following day 
should strive to prepare themselves as well as possible 
for it. Besides, unless any one has received from the 
Superior permission to remain at the house, all the mis 
sionaries, especially those that are young, if they have no 
other occupation, should be present at the instruction, or 
at least at the great sermon. After the sermon and the 
discipline they all retire to the house, where they hear 
the confessions of the men till the hour for supper. 

In all these observances the Superior should endeavor 
to set the example, being the first especially in rising at 
the signal in the morning, in retiring in the evening to 
go to bed, in keeping silence, and in hearing confes 
sions; for if he fails in his duty he will easily see that the 
others will also fail, and what is worse, by failing him 
self he will not have the courage to reprove others. 

II. The Superior should appoint the missionaries for 
each exercise of the mission, namely, one for the sermon, 
another for the instruction; one for the meditation in 
the morning, another for the catechism, which is usually 
given by the Prefect of the church. The latter should 
take care to notify the priests of the hour in which they 
may say Mass, one after the other, in order that they 
may not come together to say Mass at the last hour. 

The Superior also appoints a missionary for the ex 
ercises that are to be given to \htpriests, and another 
for giving them separately to the seminarians, if there is 
a seminary in the place; for if the seminarians are pres 
ent at the exercises of the priests they will profit very 

CJiap. XI. Duties of the Superior. 295 

Moreover, he appoints one to give in the morning 
separate exercises to the gentlemen in some chapel or 
other place of meeting. These special exercises are of 
great benefit to the instructed persons of the place, be 
cause in certain places such people hardly attend the 
mission; but when the exercises are expressly given to 
them, they all usually attend them. Then when we 
speak familiarly with th-em and ad cor, many give them 
selves to God, and their good example leads to the re 
form of the entire population. 

He should, likewise, appoint some one to give the ex 
ercises to the nuns or religious Communities, if there 
are such in the place, and if they request to have them; 
but they should not be offered to them nor should any 
engagement be made with them. 

Another Father should be appointed by him to give 
the exercises to \\\.e prisoners, and to hear their confes 

He will give to the Fathers, in turn, the less impor 
tant exercises, as the exhortations, the Rosary, the dis 
cipline, etc. He should, moreover, appoint one or two 
to go to hear the confessions of the sick who may call 
them. He also chooses one or two, especially at the be 
ginning of the mission, to go, before the sermon, to in 
vite the people to come to church. 

Besides, at the beginning of the mission he should 
charge some missionaries to visit the most respectable 
people of the place, such as the principal functionaries, 
and also other persons of distinction, if there be any. 
As for the bishop, the vicar-general, and the principal 
man of the place, the Superior himself should visit them; 
and if these dignitaries do not live in the place, but in 
the neighborhood, he should at least take care to send 
two missionaries to visit them, and to ask the bishop 
for his blessing, and the chief magistrate for his protec 
tion, if it be necessary for the success of the mission. 

296 Exercises of the Missions. 

III. Finally, the Superior appoints an Econome who is 
to take charge of the house, in regard to the food, beds, 
the means of travelling, and all the expenses that are 
incurred during the mission. 

The Superior should also appoint the Prefect of the 
church, who is charged with the duty of placing the pul 
pit and the statue of Mary at the side of it, of preparing 
the crucifix and the torches, and of finding clerics to 
carry them; the Prefect has, moreover, to arrange all 
that is needed for the general Communion and for the 
blessing on the last day, as also to prepare the Calvary 
or the crosses that are to be erected. 

Besides, he is to appoint the Prefect of peace, who is 
to gather information in regard to the enmities that 
exist in the place, and to devote himself to the work of 

Ch. XI L Virtues Required in Missionaries. 297 



i. Obedience. 

IF during the mission one does not obey the Superior 
with exactness, all will be disorder, confusion, and 
trouble, and success will not be attained; for when there 
is no obedience to the orders of the Superior,, all the 
exercises of the mission are thrown into confusion, and 
the consequence will be innumerable misunderstandings, 
either between the Superior and the subjects, or among 
the subjects themselves, because this will give rise to 
rivalries, jealousies, murmurs, which will create many 
annoyances and disappointments. How can such a 
mission redound to the greater glory of God? A vessel 
directed by different pilots cannot but make a disastrous 

Every missionary should therefore be blindly obedient 
in everything that the Superior ordains. We may draw 
his attention to that of which he is ignorant or to that 
which he does not notice; but after having represented 
the case, we should be satisfied, abstain from replying, 
and especially from disputing ; otherwise the Superior 
as well as the subject will become disquieted, and in the 
agitation that follows the work will be done unwillingly, 
while to the labors of the mission it is necessary that we 
bring a tranquil and cheerful mind. 

2. Humility. 

No one should have the temerity to ask for any office 
or to be employed as preacher. One would cause great 

298 Exercises of the Missions. 

scandal if one showed, directly or indirectly, a desire to 
preach or to give an instruction, or some other exercise 
of which one has not the care. One would deserve to 
he taken no longer on the missions, or to be always kept, 
so to speak, in the corner. Let every one show rather a 
desire to be engaged in the most humble employments; 
for example, to teach catechism, to say the Rosary, and 
the like. The best thing would be to appear always 
ready to hear confessions, especially the confessions of 
men. Here, in passing, we would remind confessors 
that when penitents come who are not disposed, they 
should never be sent away to examine their conscience, 
especially if they are but little instructed, as we have 
said in the Instruction and Practice fqr Confessors j l the 
confessors should examine them themselves according 
to the order of the commandments. In fact, to hear 
confessions in the missions is a less brilliant employ 
ment, but the most important and the most useful for 
the glory of God. The preacher is honored by every 
one ; he is called a saint, an excellent missionary; his 
hands, his garments, are kissed, people recommend 
themselves to his prayers, whilst he that spends nine 
or ten hours every day in the confessional is not men 
tioned, not even looked at. But perhaps this confessor 
will acquire more praise before God in a single day than 
the preacher with all his sermons and all his efforts, 
with all the acclamations and applause that he receives 
from the people. 

Father Segneri wisely remarks that the missionary 
should expect from his labors only the glory of God and 
the good of souls, taking for himself detraction, con 
tempt, and vexations, and referring to God all the 
honors that are paid to him ; otherwise, if he views 
with complacency his talents and his success, he will 
lose more than he gains of all his labors. To him will 

1 Homo apost. tr. nit. 3, n. 18. 

Ch. XII. Virtues Required in Missionaries. 299 

be said : You have received your reward. All the mission 
aries should be disposed to suffer with humility the cold 
reception or any other unpleasantness that they may 
meet with from the inhabitants of the place. The same 
Father Segneri said that he who has not the courage to 
bear with contempt and with bitterness, is not fit to be a 

3. Mortification. 

Every one should be satisfied with the food and with 
the bed that are given to him, without asking for any 
thing. When we go on a mission, we should go with 
the thought and the resolution not to take a walk for 
recreation s sake, but to suffer in order to gain souls for 
Jesus Christ. We should abstain from going to see the 
curiosities that are in the place, unless they happen to be 
objects of devotion; we should also refrain from going 
out of the house for the purpose of distracting ourselves 
or even from remaining at the windows or on the balcony 
of the house in which we live. The people look upon the 
missionaries as saints, as men dead to all the things of 
this world, as if they had neither flesh nor senses, so that 
every act on their part that does not appear holy aston 
ishes and scandalizes them. 

4. Piety. 

This virtue should be especially conspicuous when we 
celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Every priest 
whom we see saying Mass hurriedly and with but little 
piety, as we have said in several places of our writings, 
gives scandal to the people ; but the scandal would be 
greater if a missionary were seen celebrating Mass after 
the manner of indevout priests. It would not be proper 
to say that during the mission devotions should be 
abridged in order that more time may be given to con 
fessions and to other exercises ; for the words of the 

3OO Exercises of the Missions. 

confessor and of the preacher will make little impres 
sion if the audience is not convinced of the sanctity of 
him who speaks. 

Every one should, therefore, endeavor to celebrate 
Mass with suitable devotion, and even during the time 
of the mission with a little more devotion than usual, in 
order to edify the people. Besides, we should not fail 
to make thanksgiving after Mass, as is prescribed in our 
Constitutions; however, during the mission it would be 
a fault to spend more than a quarter of an hour in mak 
ing it, when there are many penitents waiting to go to 

5. Modesty. 

The missionaries should observe great modesty both 
in their looks and in their words. 

They should take care always to observe modesty of 
the eyes in the church; in the streets, and in the houses 
where there are women. They should know that the 
people are very attentive in observing whether any mis 
sionary looks women in the face. A missionary, now 
dead, was a holy man; nevertheless in a certain place he 
had neglected to keep his eyes under control, and it was 
said of him: "He may have been a saint, but he used to 
look women in the face." 

Especially should the missionary be modest in his 
words; let him never speak of the defects of others, and 
let him speak well of every one. Religious and priests 
should always be held in great esteem, and when others 
are detracting their neighbor, he should at least be silent 
if he cannot excuse him. 

6. Courtesy and Gravity. 

The missionaries should be courteous to every one 
especially by saluting all those whom they meet on the 
way, however humble may be their condition. Nothing 

Ch. XII. Virtues Re quire din Missionaries. 301 

attaches the people to the missionaries and draws them 
to God so much as to see themselves saluted by them. 
This is, however, to be understood of men, not of women; 
for when they meet women, they should salute them with 
uncovered head without raising the eyes. All courtesy 
and deference should therefore be paid to the people of 
the place; they should avoid disputing with them, and 
yield to them in all that does not compromise the inter 
ests of the mission. 

But to this courtesy and deference must be joined 
gravity and proper reserve ; hence the missionaries 
should avoid being intimate with any person of the 
place and for this reason they should abstain from talk 
ing to others about news and about anything that does 
not profit the mission. For a greater reason should 
they refrain from entering the houses without necessity 
and without the permission of the Superior. 

WE shall here treat of five points on which it is neces 
sary to instruct the people so that the mission may be 
successful : i. Love for Jesus crucified ; 2. Devotion to 
the Mother of God ; 3. Necessity of prayer in order to 
be saved ; 4. Flight from dangerous occasions; 5. Ruin 
of souls who through shame omit to confess their sins. 

Love for Jesus Crucified. 

In the missions we usually speak only of the four Last 
Things and of other subjects apt to excite fear ; little is 
said, except incidentally, of the love that God bears us, 
and of the obligation that we have to love him. No one 
will deny that terrifying sermons are useful, and even 
necessary, in order to awaken sinners who have fallen 
asleep in their sins ; but we should be convinced that 
conversions brought about only by the fear of divine 
chastisements are of short duration ; they last only as 
long as this fear continues in full strength ; when, how 
ever, it is dissipated, the soul, having become quite 
feeble by the sins committed, easily succumbs to every 
new attack of temptation; if the holy love of God enters 
not the soul it will be difficult for it to persevere. 

Persuaded of this truth, St. Peter of Alcantara usually 
treated in his sermons of terrible subjects, as death, 
judgment, hell, by which he startled his hearers by 
representing to them the rigor of the divine justice 
against the obstinate ; at the same time, however, he 
allayed their fears by pointing out to them the remedies 

/. Love for Jesus Crucified. 303 

for the sins committed. He inspired them with hope of 
pardon through the merits of Jesus Christ according to 
the sweet promises made by our Lord, who wished to 
suffer so much and to die of sorrow on the cross in 
order to obtain for sinners pardon and grace to resist 
in future the temptations of the flesh and of hell. It is 
thus that the saint attracted to Jesus Christ all that 
came to him the learned and the unlearned, in such 
crowds that the churches where he preached could not 
contain the people, and conversions became general. 

The missionary should therefore chiefly endeavor in 
every sermon that he preaches to leave his hearers in 
flamed with this holy love. But this end is not attained 
by speculative sermons, in which one demonstrates the 
excellence of divine love, to attain which it is above all 
important for us to make others understand the love 
that Jesus Christ has borne us in his Passion. St. 
Francis de Sales says: "All love that does not take its 
origin in the Passion of our Lord is frivolous." When, 
on the other hand, a Christian believes and practically 
represents to himself all that Jesus Christ has suffered 
in order to save him, he cannot but be penetrated with 
love for Jesus Christ; and therefore we may rightly 
hope that he will persevere till death in the state of 

In reference to this matter I find it proper to note 
here what was told me of a celebrated missionary, who 
is now dead. As he was charged to preach the principal 
sermon in a place of several thousand inhabitants, he 
preached among others a speculative sermon on divine 
love, and invited a well-informed priest to come to hear 
him. This priest told me that the discourse was learned, 
filled with texts of Scripture and of the holy Fathers, 
and of theological teachings ; he was praised by the 
small number of hearers that could understand him ; 
but the* greater part of the people derived no fruit or 

304 Appendix. 

nearly none, because they could understand very little 
of what he said. The preacher would certainly have 
produced much more fruit if he had confined himself to 
explain in an humble way the love that Jesus Christ 
bore to us by coming into the world to suffer and to die 
for us. 

Hence in our missions, especially on the last three 
days, we speak only of the Passion of our Lord, so that 
the souls may become attached to Jesus Christ; and not 
only on the last three days, but on every day of the 
mission, it will be well for the preacher to interweave, 
wherever this is suitable, some exhortation on the love 
that we owe to Jesus Christ. Moreover, we would do 
well to induce the audience to procure, each one, a pious 
image of Jesus crucified, to whom they should take care 
often to recommend themselves during the day by ask 
ing of him the graces that they desire, above all the grace 
of loving him till death; and this grace every one should 
ask of the divine Mother, of his guardian angel, and of 
all his holy patrons, that is, the grace of loving Jesus 
Christ, which comprises all graces. 

It will also be useful for the preacher to teach the 
people, from time to time, some holy maxims which 
every good Christian should keep engraven on his 
heart, in order to continue in the grace of God and 
in union with his holy will; for example: To lose every 
thing rather than to lose God. If God is lost, all is lost. 
What friend have we who has loved us as much as God ? 
All that God wishes is good. We should therefore ac 
cept everything that comes from his hand. 

It will also be useful to teach some ejaculatory 
prayers, to reanimate in the heart the love for God; for 
example : Dens metis, et omniaTAy God and my all. 
My God, it is only Thee that I wish, and nothing else. 
Whom shall I love if I do not love Thee, my Jesus, who 
hast died for me? etc. These pious affections will con- 

//. Devotion to the Mother of God. 305 

tribute much to keep burning in the heart the sacred 
fire of divine love, 

Devotion to the Mother of God. 

During the mission we should often recommend de 
votion to the Blessed Virgin. This devotion is not one 
of those that one calls supererogatory. According to 
the teaching of many saints and all the masters of the 
spiritual life, it is regarded as necessary, not by abso 
lute necessity, but at least by moral necessity; so that 
one fears for him who lives habitually a stranger to such 
a devotion. To convince ourselves of this truth, it is 
sufficient to know that the holy Church in her hymns 
makes us call the Blessed Virgin our hope Spes nostra, 

This- agrees with what St. Bernard writes; he thus 
calls Mary: "A full aqueduct, so that others may receive 
from her plenitude." 1 He afterwards says: " The Re 
deemer when about to redeem mankind conferred upon 
Mary the price of the redemption." 2 And he concludes: 
" If there is any hope in us, if there is any grace, if any 
salvation, we know that it all comes from Mary." 3 He 
again says: "No grace comes from heaven to the earth 
unless it passes through the hands of Mary." 4 And 
elsewhere he says: Such is his wish that we should have 
everything through Mary." f Father Natalis Alexander, 

1 " Plenus Aquaeductus, ut accipiant caeteri de ejus plenitudine."- 
De Aquczd. n. 3. 

2 " Redempturus humanum genus, pretium universum contulit in 

3 " Si quid in nobis est, si quid gratiae, si quid salutis, ab ea noveri- 
mus redundare." De Aquied. n. 6. 

4 " Nulla gratia venit de coelo ad terram, nisi transeat per manus 
Mariae." Apud S. Bernardin. Pro Fest. V. M. s. 5, c. 8. 

5 " Sic est voluntas ejus, qui totum nos habere voluit per Mariam. " 
DC A quad. n. 7. 


306 Appendix. 

dwelling on these last words of St. Bernard, thus ex 
presses himself: " God wishes that all the good that we 
expect from him should be obtained through the most 
powerful intercession of Mary." 1 And Father Con- 
tenson wishes the same thing to be understood w r hen he 
says that none will participate in the blood of Jesus 
Christ except through the intercession of his divine 
Mother, and puts into the mouth of our Lord these 
words: " No one shall participate in my blood except 
through the intercession of rny Mother." 2 

And why should we expect everything good from God 
through the intervention of Mary? The same St. Ber 
nard gives us the reason of this in another place, by say 
ing that it is because Mary is wanting neither in power 
with God to obtain for us all the graces that we desire, 
nor in good-will to save our souls: "She is wanting 
neither in the power nor in the will." 3 In another 
place he declares that Mary is the whole foundation of 
his hope: " She is my greatest reliance, she is the entire 
motive of my hope." 4 And he exhorts us to ask in the 
name of Mary for all the graces that we desire to receive 
from God: " Let us ask for grace, and let us ask for it 
through Mary." & Finally, the saint assures us of divine 
grace and eternal salvation if we persevere in devotion 
to Mary. He thus beautifully expresses himself: "Fol 
lowing her, you will not wander from the path; invoking 
her, you will not despair; thinking of her, you will not 
err; clinging to her, you will not fall; having her as 

1 " Deus vult ut omnia bona ab ipso exspectemus, potentissima Vir- 
gmis Matris intercessione impetranda." Ep, 50 in cake Theol. 

2 " Nullus sanguinis mei particeps erit, nisi intercessione Matris 
mere." The.ol. ment. et cord. t. 2, 1. 10, d. 4, c. I. 

3 " Nee facultas ei. deesse poterit, nee yoluntas." De Assumpt. s. i, 
n. 2. 

4 " Hsec maxima mea fiducia est, haec tota ratio spei mese." De 
Aquced. n. 7. 

5 " Quseramus gratiam, et per Mariam quaeramus." Ibid. n. 8. 

//. Devotion to the Mother of God. 307 

your protectress, you need fear nothing; having her as 
your guide, you will not grow weary; being propitious 
to you, she will help you to arrive at your destiny." 

To the writings of St. Bernard may be added what 
many other saints say of the Blessed Virgin. St. 
Ephrem addresses these words to her: "In no other 
except in thee, O most faithful virgin ! do we put our 
confidence." 2 St. Bonaventure writes: "No one can 
enter heaven, unless he enters through Mary as through 
a door." 3 And St Bernardine of Sienna: " All the gifts 
and graces are dispensed by God through Mary s hands, 
to whom she wishes, when and how she wishes." 4 In 
another place he says to her: "Thou art the dispenser of 
all graces; our salvation is in thy hands." St. Peter 
Damian also says to her: "Nothing is impossible to 
thee, to whom it is possible to inspire with confidence 
even those that have despaired of salvation." 6 And he 
adds at the end, that the Son honors his Mother in re 
fusing her nothing for which she asks him: "The Son 
honors thee by refusing thee nothing." 

In order not to be too diffuse I omit here very many 
other passages taken from authors who express the same 
thing; but from all that precedes, we rightly conclude 

1 "Ipsam sequens, non devias; ipsam rogans, non desperas; ipsam 
cogitans, non erras; ipsa tenente, non corruis; ipsa protegente, non 
metuis; ipsa duce, non fatigaris; ipsa propitia, pervenis." De Laud. 
V. M. horn. 2. 

2 " Nobis non est alia quam a te fiducia, o Virgo sincerissima !" 
De Laud. B. M. V. 

3 " Nullus potest ccelutn intrare, nisi per Mariam transeat, tamquam 
per portam." In Luc. i. 

4 " Omnia dona et gratiae, quibus vult, quando vult, et quomodo vult, 
per ipsius manus dispensantur." 

5 " Tu Dispensatrix omnium gratiarum; salus nostra in manu tua 
est." S. de Nat. M. V. s. 8. 

6 " Nihil tibi impossibile, rui possibile est etiam desperatos in spem 
beatitndinis rclevare." 

1 " Filius, nihil negans, honorat te." De Nat. B. M. V. s. I. 

3 o3 


that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is not only useful, 
but even morally necessary, according to what St. Ber 
nard says, as is quoted above: "No grace comes from 
heaven to the earth unless it passes through the hands 
of Mary." At the present time this is a very common 
opinion among Catholics, as we have proved in our 
book the Glories of Mary, 1 in which I quote many theo 
logians who call this an opinion that is absolutely 

However, this opinion does not please Muratori, who 
in his book entitled Well-regulated Devotion, says of 
the maintained proposition, " God does not grant any 
grace except through the mediation of Mary," 2 that it is 
a hyperbole, an exaggeration that has escaped the lips 
of some saints. But I do not know how this great 
scholar has been able to see in this a hyperbole, after 
Jesus Christ has deigned to choose this privileged crea 
ture for his Mother, and for his co-operatrix in the re 
demption of the human race. It cannot be denied that 
it was a most proper thing that, since Mary had honored 
and loved Jesus Christ more than all men and all angels, 
he should have wished to raise her to this prerogative, 
namely, that all the graces which are to be dispensed to 
redeemed men graces which are the fruit of his merits 
should pass through the hands of his Mother, as through 
a channel of graces, according to the opinion of St. Ber 
nard. What conduces much in favor of our proposition 
is that the holy Church in the Salve Regina tells us to 
call this divine Mother, Vita, spes nostra our life, our 
hope. One should then fear very much for the salva 
tion of him who esteems but little the devotion to the 
Blessed Virgin, and neglects to obtain her intercession; 
for according to the opinion of St. Bernard, he thereby 

1 Part I. Ch. V. 

2 "Nulla gratia venit de coelo ad terram, nisi transeat per manus 

///. Necessity of Prayer. 309 

closes to himself the channel of graces necessary to his 
salvation; and it is this that the preacher should above 
all inculcate. 

Necessity of Prayer in order to save our Souls. 

In regard to the necessity of prayer it must be re 
marked that although God wishes the salvation of all 
men, as the Apostle declares: Who will have all men to be 
saved; and that according to the remark of St. Thomas 
on these words, the Lord, wishing the salvation of all 
men, does not allow any one to be in want of the grace 
of which he stands in need: "And, therefore, grace is 
wanting to no one, but communicates itself to all as far 
as possible;" 2 nevertheless, theologians teach that no 
one is saved except with the help of God, and this help 
he does not obtain unless he prays for it. 3 Thus Gen- 
nadius * expresses himself, and St. Augustine adds that 
except the first graces, as the vocation to the faith, or to 
penance, God does not grant the rest, and especially the 
grace of final perseverance, except to him who asks for 
it. 5 Hence theologians commonly conclude, with St. 
Basil, St. John Chrysostom, and the same St. Augustine, 
that for adults prayer is necessary by necessity of means, 
so that without prayer it is impossible, according to the 
present disposition of Providence, to save one s soul. 
This is what is signified by Scripture when it says: 
We ought always to pray? Askrand you shall receive? Pray 
1 " Qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri." i Tim. ii. 4. 

" Et ideo gratia nulli deest, sed omnibus, quantum in se est, se 
communicat." In Heb. 12. lect. 3. 

" Nullum salutem suam, nisi Deo auxiliante, operari; nullum, nisi 
orantem, auxilium promereri." 
4 DC Red. Dogm. c. 26. 

" Alia non nisi orantibus praeparasse, sicut usque in finem perseve- 
rantiam." De Dono persev. c. 16. 

6 " Oportet semper orare." Luke, xviii. I. 

7 " Petite, et accipietis. " John, xvi. 24. 

3 io 


without ceasing. 1 For St. Thomas 2 says that the words 
We ought, Ask, Pray express a precept which imposes a 
grave obligation, especially in three cases: i. When any 
one is in the state of mortal sin; 2. When any one is in 
danger of committing sin; 3. When any one is in great 
danger of death. Outside of these cases, theologians 
(see Less/us, de lust., 1. 2, c. 37, d. 3, n. 9, et seq.) say that 
he who neglects for a month, or at least for two months, 
to recommend himself to God, is not excused from mor 
tal sin. The reason of this is that ordinarily during 
this time the devil, who unceasingly is trying to gain 
souls, will not fail to cause him some grave temptation, 
and that in grave temptations he who does not pray, 
and does not ask God s help, of which he stands in need 
in order not to fall, will very easily fall. In fact, we 
should be convinced that without the help of God we 
have not the strength to resist the violent movements of 
bad passions and the vehement suggestions of the enemy 
who comes to assail us, even though we should have 
taken a thousand good resolutions and made to God a 
thousand promises; if we then do not recommend our 
selves to God, we shall certainly be conquered. We 
must add that the Council of Trent condemns him who 
should say that man in the state of grace can persevere 
in it without the special help of God: " If any one saith 
that the justified either is able to persevere, without the 
special help of God, in the justice received; or that, 
with that help, he is not able; let him be anathema." 3 
Hence, in order to persevere, the ordinary divine help 
does not suffice; we need extraordinary help, which is 
not obtained except through prayer. 

1 "Sine intermissione orate." i Thess. v. 17. 

2 P. 3, q. 39. a. 5. 

3 " Si quis dixerit justification, vel sine speciali auxilio Dei in accepta 
justitia perseverare posse, vel cum eo non posse, anathema sit," 
Sess. vi. can. xxn. 

///. Necessity of Prayer. 3 1 1 

[n this we should be greatly encouraged by the in 
numerable promises that the Lord has made us, as well 
in the Old as in the New Testament, that he will hear 
any one that prays to him. What should, above all, in 
spire us with great confidence is the consideration of the 
two promises made by Jesus Christ, in which he teaches 
us to pray with the certainty of obtaining the graces 
that we ask in his name. In one promise he says: 
Amen, amen, I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in 
My name, He will give it you; in the other: If you shall ask 
Me anything in My name, that I will do. 1 When we, there 
fore, pray to God in the name of the Son, or to the Son 
in his name, we should be sure of obtaining the grace 
that we ask; for God cannot fail in his promises. This 
is to be, however, understood whenever the graces asked 
for are spiritual goods, the before-mentioned promises 
not having for their object temporal goods, which the 
Lord grants to us only so far as they are more profitable 
to the soul. As for spiritual goods, the Apostle St. 
James wishes us to ask for them with great confidence, 
because God grants them in abundance to all: Ask of 
God, Who givcth to all men abundantly, and upbraidcth not. 1 
The last two \vords signify much: they signify that when 
anv one addresses God prayers useful to his eternal sal 
vation, and when he prays with faith, God will certainly 
hear him; even when the soul has been unfaithful to 
him he grants it the grace that it asks, and does not re 
proach it for the faults that it has committed. When, 
therefore, we solicit spiritual goods, we should firmly 
believe that we shall obtain them, and they will be 
granted to us, as our divine Master has assured us when 
he says: All things whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe 

1 " Amen, amen, dico vobis; si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine 
meo, clabit vobis." John, xvi. 23. 

2 " Postulet a Deo, qui dat omnibus affluenter, et non improperat." 
James, i. 5. 

3 1 2 Appendix. 

that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you. After 
this, the preacher should not omit to recommend to him 
who prays always to be careful to interpose the inter 
cession of Mary, according to the advice given by St. 
Bernard quoted above: "Let us ask for grace, and let 
us ask it through Mary." 

In concluding this point about the necessity of prayer, 
I cannot but complain of those preachers, and also of 
the authors of books of piety, who speak little of prayer; 
but I especially complain of confessors who take little 
care to remind their penitents of this necessity of pray 
ing in temptations: they carefully tell them to make a 
firm resolution and to promise to God never more to 
offend him; but they do not take the trouble to make 
them understand that when one is tempted, especially 
against purity, good resolutions and promises are of 
little use if one does not invoke God s help. When the 
temptation is strong, we should at once recommend our 
selves fervently to God; and if the temptation continues, 
we should continue to implore the help of God in order 
not to fall until it ceases, or at least until it grows 
weaker. Experience proves that the invocation of the 
holy names of Jesus and Mary, in temptations, is an excel 
lent means not to give consent to them. But I say that if 
one sees so much backsliding among penitents who are 
contrite, it is because confessors pay so little attention 
to persuading them that in the suggestions of the devil 
they should immediately ask God to assist them. 

Some will be astonished at seeing me requiring of 
preachers that during the missions they should attend 
to inculcating these two practices on the minds of 
the hearers, namely, to have recourse to God in tempta 
tions, and as is said in the second point, to recommend 
one s self often to the Blessed Virgin. I say that they 

1 " Omnia quaecumque orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et 
evenient vobis." Mark, xi. 24. 

IV. Flight from Dangerous Occasions. 3 1 3 

will he astonished, because commonly these are two 
things that preachers always recommend and leave as 
remembrances, especially in their last sermon. Yes, I 
say that such is the custom; but I answer that in order 
to induce the hearers to take the firm resolution to exe 
cute these two things that are so important to salvation, 
it is not sufficient to recommend them once and to leave 
them as remembrances in the last sermon: we should 
recommend them in all the sermons in order that the 
people may keep them engraven on the memory, and 
put them in practice in the future. 

The Flight from Dangerous Occasions. 

This fourth point should often be recommended in 
the mission; for an innumerable multitude of souls are 
lost by not wishing to avoid the occasions of sin. Oh, 
how many souls are now in hell who cry out, weeping: 
Unhappy me, if I had kept from this occasion I should 
never have damned my soul for all eternity ! 

The Holy Ghost reminds us that he who loves the 
danger will fall into sin, will perish; He that loveth dan 
ger shall perish in it. St. Thomas explains to us the rea 
son ; commenting on this text, he says that when we 
voluntarily expose ourselves to danger, or when we 
neglect to keep from it, God abandons us in it. 2 And 
St. Bernardine of Sienna" assures us that among the 
counsels of Jesus Christ the counsel of fleeing from the 
occasion of sin is the most important, is, as it were, the 
foundation of religion. 

- The preacher should then take care to remind the 
people that when they are tempted, especially if the oc- 

1 " Qui amat perirulum, in illo peribit." Ecchi^ Hi. 27. 

- " Cum exponimus nos in periculo, Deus nus derelinquit in illo." 

3 T. i, s. 21, a. 3, c. 3. 

3H Appendix. 

casion presents itself, they should avoid reasoning with 
the temptation. What the devil desires is precisely that 
we should parley with it; for thereby he will easily con 
quer us. We must in this case flee from the occasion at 
once, and invoke the names of Jesus and Mary without 
listening to the enemy who tempts us. 

St. Peter assures us that the devil prowls around every 
soul to devour it. 1 On this text St. Cyprian says that the 
devil goes about without ceasing, and examines by what 
door he may enter. When a dangerous occasion presents 
itself, the devil at once says to himself: Here is the door 
by which I can enter this soul. And immediately he be 
gins to tempt the soul. If we then neglect to flee from 
the occasion, we shall certainly yield to it, especially when 
the object of the temptation is a carnal sin. Hence the 
devil is not so much afraid of our good resolutions and 
our promises not to offend God as to see us flee from 
. the occasion; for, if we do not flee from it, it becomes a 
bandage which is put over our eyes, and makes us for 
get all the eternal truths, all the lights received, and all 
the promises made to God. And if any one finds him 
self sunken in impure sins, he should avoid as much as 
possible the occasions, not only the proximate, but also 
the remote occasions, for he is less capable of resisting. 
We should not, then, labor under the illusion by pre 
tending that it is a necessary occasion which we need 
not avoid; for Jesus Christ has said: If thy right eye scan 
dalize thec, pluck it out, and cast it from thee? Even if it 
were your right eye, to escape damnation it would be 
necessary to pluck it out and cast it from you, that is, 
by fleeing from this occasion, however remote it may 

" Adversarius vester diabolus . . . circuit, quferens quern devoret. 
I Pet. v. 8. 

"Quod si oculus tuns dexter scandalizet te, erue eum et projice abs 
te."Matt. v. 29. 

IV. Flight from Dangerous Occasions. 315 

be; for on account of your weakness it is proximate for 

St. Francis of Assisi, speaking of persons who have 
the fear of God, gives an excellent advice concerning 
remote occasions: he says that for persons who fear to 
lose God, the devil, in the occasions, does not at first 
excite them to grave faults ; he begins by attaching 
them with a hair, which afterwards, in time, may 
through his suggestions become a chain, and he thus 
succeeds in dragging them into mortal sin. Hence in 
our relations with persons of the other sex, we should 
take care to break off from the beginning every kind of 
attachment, however feeble it may be,by avoiding even 
the remote occasions, such as looking them in the face, 
saluting them with affection, receiving notes or presents 
from them, and much more, saying tender words to 

We should, above all, be convinced that we who are 
by nature sensual have not the strength to preserve the 
virtue of chastity; God only in his goodness can grant 
us this strength. Now it is true that the Lord hears 
him who prays to him; but if any one exposes himself 
to the occasion, and knowing it, does not remove from 
it, his prayers are not heard, according to the words of 
the Holy Ghost already quoted : He that loveth danger 
-shall perish in it. Alas! how many are there who, for 
not having fled from the occasions of this kind, al 
though they led holy lives, ended by falling into sin 
and becoming hardened in it ? With fear ami trembling, 
says the Apostle, work out your salvation} He that does 
not tremble, and dares to expose himself to dangerous 
occasions, above all to occasions of carnal sins, will be 
saved with difficulty. 

Since these counsels about the flight of dangerous 
occasions is so important, it is not sufficient, if the 

"Cum metu et tremorc, vestram salutem operamini." Phil. ii. 


316 Appendix. 

preacher speaks once to his people, or even 
devotes an entire sermon to it, as some do, and do well; 
but as these occasions are numerous, and men are care 
less about avoiding them, the world becoming thereby 
so corrupt, we must come back to this point and insist 
upon it several times during the mission. On this de 
pends the salvation of those persons who, although they 
come to the mission, yet are not present at the sermon 
on the flight from dangerous occasions. 

I add another remark, which it would be well to make 
all understand, and especially confessors. When a peni 
tent has never avoided the occasion in which he has been 
accustomed to sin, it will be necessary for him to make 
a general confession, because one should judge that all 
the confessions that he has made in this state are null. 
One should also presume the same thing in the case of 
those who, although they have always confessed their 
sins, yet never gave any sign of amendment, and fell 
back a little while after into sin; only a general confes 
sion can induce these people to amend their lives. 


The Ruin of Souls who through Shame omit to Confess 
their Sins. 

In the missions we should moreover strongly and 
often inculcate the necessity of overcoming the shame 
that one feels in confessing one s sins. Those who are 
experienced missionaries know that this cursed shame 
has been the cause of the loss of many souls. It follows 
that as the principal fruit of the missions consists in the 
remedy that they apply to this evil, they are not only 
useful but even necessary for country places ; for as 
there is only a small number of confessors, who are very 
often the relatives or friends of their penitents, false 
shame has more force in making the people conceal sins 
in confession. 

V. False Shame in Confession. 317 

It is a pity to see how many souls the devil gains by 
this means, especially in matters concerning impure 
sins; for he makes them lose shame at the moment of 
committing them, and gives this shame back to them 
when there is question of mentioning them in confes 
sion. St. Antonine, speaking of this matter, relates that 
a holy hermit, seeing one day the devil in the church 
going among those that wished to confess, asked him 
what he was doing there; the evil spirit answered: "To 
induce these people to commit sin. I have taken shame 
from them; now I return it to them in order that they 
may not confess it." St. John Chrysostom also says: 
"God has given shame to the commission of sin, and 
confidence to the confession of it. The devil inverts 
this: he inspires him who sins with confidence, and him 
who confesses with shame." 

Alas ! Christian soul, you have sinned; if you do not 
confess your sins you will certainly be damned. Why 
then do you not confess your sin? You answer: I am 
ashamed. Hence rather than overcome this shame you 
wish to be condemned for all eternity to the fire of hell ? 
It is a shame to offend so good a God who has created 
us ; it is not a shame to confess to have offended him. 
But since you do not wish to manifest your sin, refrain 
at least from going to confession. To the sin that you 
have committed do you wish to add the sacrilege of a bad 
confession? Do you know what you are doing when 
you commit a sacrilege? For the sins on account of 
which you have deserved hell there is no other remedy 
than the blood of Jesus Christ, who will purify you if 
you confess it well ; but by concealing your sin, you 
even tread under foot the blood of Jesus Christ. 

The present mission is for you a good occasion for 

1 Pudorem dedit Deus peccato, confession! fiduciam. Invertit rem 
diabolus: peccato fiduciam praebet, confessioni pudorem." De P&nit. 
horn 3. 

3 1 8 Appendix. 

making your confession to a priest who does not know 
you, whom afterwards you will see no more, and who 
will no more see you ; if you do not wish to profit by 
this occasion, God will perhaps not grant it to you 
again, and you will be damned. Remember that if you 
do not confess now, the devil will gain absolute sway 
over you, and then perhaps God will abandon you, and 
there will be no more hope for you. Courage, then ! go 
to confession immediately. 

What do you fear? Ah ! here are no doubt the pre 
texts that the devil will suggest to you: 

1. What will my confessor say when he hears that I 
have fallen in such a way ? Well ! he will say that you 
have been weak, as happens to so many others who live 
in this world; he will say that you did wrong to sin, but 
that you afterwards performed a noble deed in over 
coming shame to confess your sins. 

2. At least he will not fail to give me a scolding. Oh 
no, why should he scold you ? Know that confessors 
cannot have greater consolation than when they hear a 
person accusing himself of a sin that he has committed; 
for then he can securely absolve him and thus deliver 
him from hell. 

3. I have not enough confidence to manifest this sin 
to my spiritual Father. Well ! go to confession to an 
other priest of the place or to a stranger. But if my 
confessor hears that I have gone to confession to an 
other, he will be offended, and will no more hear my 
confession. And you, in order not to displease your 
confessor wish to commit a sacrilege and to damn your 
soul? If you go to hell, will your confessor be able to 
talk you out of it? 

4. Who knows whether the confessor will not make 
known my sin to others? What folly to think that a 
confessor could wish to commit so great a crime as to 
break the seal of confession by manifesting your sin to 

V. False Shame in Confession. 319 

others ! To how many confessors are you to declare 
your sin? It suffices that you tell it once to one priest 
only, who hears your sin as he hears a thousand others 
in other confessions. But why have you so many un 
reasonable fears, and have not the fear of damning your 
self by not confessing your sin ? This should deprive 
you of all consolation and all peace; for, if you do not 
confess your sin, there will remain in your conscience a 
viper that will gnaw your heart during your whole life 
in this world, and after death, during all eternity in hell. 

Well now, let us take courage, and make known to 
the confessor the recesses of your conscience; immedi 
ately after confession you will find the peace that you 
have lost, and you will ever thank God for having given 
you the strength to overcome the devil. Hasten, there 
fore, to be delivered from this viper that causes you so 
much pain, and become reconciled with God. Hear 
what I say: It is sufficient for you to say to the con 
fessor: My Father, I have a scruple about my past life ; 
but I am ashamed to mention it. Speak thus, and then 
it will be the confessor s duty to deliver you from the 
serpent that torments you as if you were one of the 
damned, although you are not yet in hell. 

I have wished to mention here in a practical manner 
those pretexts which induce so many poor souls to con 
ceal their sins and are the cause of their damnation. 
As this cursed shame is everywhere prevalent, especially 
among women, we must make them understand the an 
swers given above to the false pretexts which the devil 
puts before them in order to make them conceal their 

It is true, I am well aware that, in the missions, usu 
ally a special sermon is preached to move the hearers 
not to hide any sin through shame ; but I say that this 
point is so important that even an entire sermon is not 
sufficient : first, because it may happen that souls need- 

320 Appendix. 

ing it most are not present; secondly, because for per 
sons who have concealed their sins for a long time, it is 
not enough to hear the remedy spoken of but once; the 
preacher should often insist upon this matter, which I re 
gard as the most important that one has to treat in the 
missions; for even in the missions many persons, although 
they have been present at the sermons, have continued 
to hide their sins. This is particularly necessary when 
one preaches in conservatories in which many girls and 
women are living together. As the occasions of sin are 
more frequent there, sins are also more frequent ; and 
for persons that live in these establishments it is more 
difficult to have a confessor to whom they would con 
fess with less repugnance ; hence we should oftener 
speak to them about false shame, which causes them to 
conceal sins in confession, and it is very useful to make 
a deep impression upon their minds by relating to them 
melancholy examples. 

In all the missions given by our Congregation it is 
customary for him who explains the catechism to relate 
every day one of the terrible examples of persons damned 
for having concealed sins in confession. Many of these 
examples are found in good authors, and I have given 
some of them in my treatise INSTRUCTIONS TO THE PEOPLE 
ON THE COMMANDMENTS. I think the preacher would do 
well to put to a profitable use similar examples. They 
may be of benefit not only to him who preaches the ser 
mon, but also to him who gives the instruction or medi 
tation, and even to him who gives the exercises to 
priests ; for among them are often found parish priests, 
preachers of Lenten sermons, and other ecclesiastics 
who are anxious to preach in a profitable manner. 



In the visit which the people are to make the priest should read these 
Acts in a loud voice and with pauses, and the people should repeat them 
after him. 

Visit to the Blessed Sacrament. 

O my soul ! revive thy faith and thy confidence: thou 
art in the presence of the infinite majesty of thy God, 
who for the love of thee descended one day from heaven 
to the earth, became man, and wished to die on the cross 
to save thee, and who now remains here in the Blessed 
Sacrament to hear thee, and to grant thee the graces 
that thou askest of him; speak to him, then, and say: 


My God, because Thou art infallible truth, and hast 
revealed what we should believe, I believe all that Thou 
teachest me to believe. I believe that Thou art the 
Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, and that in 
eternity Thou rewardest the just in paradise and pun- 
ishest the wicked in hell. I believe that Thou art only 
one God in essence and three in Persons, the Father, 
the Son, the Holy Ghost. I believe, O eternal Son of 
God ! that, becoming incarnate and being made man in 
the womb of Mary, Thou wast crucified for our salva 
tion, and that now Thou remainest in the Blessed Sacra 
ment to nourish us with Thy flesh in holy Communion, 
and to hear our prayers on Thy altars when we come to 

^22 Visit to the Blessed Sacrament 


visit Thee. Prostrate, therefore, at Thy feet, I, a misera 
ble sinner, unworthy to appear before Thee, and worthy 
only of being in hell, as I have so often deserved, I 
adore Thee, O infinite Majesty, by uniting myself to the 
adorations that are rendered to Thee by all the angels 
and all the saints, with the Blessed Virgin Mary. 


My dear Redeemer, trusting in Thy promises, because 
Thou art faithful, powerful, and merciful, I hope that 
Thou wilt, grant me through the merits of Thy Passion 
the pardon of my sins, perseverance in Thy grace till 
death, and finally the happiness of going to see and 
love Thee eternally in paradise. 


My dear Lord and my God, because Thou art an in 
finite good, worthy of an infinite love, I love Thee with 
my whole heart above all things, and I would wish to 
see Thee loved by all men of this world as much as 
Thou deservest to be. I rejoice that Thou art and wilt 
always be infinitely happy. 


My dearly beloved Redeemer, if I had abandoned all 
for Thee by spending my whole life in the desert, and 
if afterwards I had died by the violence of the torments 
endured for Thy love, it would certainly be nothing 
in comparison with the cruel death that Thou my 
God hast wished to suffer for me. But how have I 
treated Thee in the past? I have repaid Thee with in 
gratitude. Instead of loving Thee, how many times 
have I offended Thee by turning my back upon Thee, 
by despising Thy grace and Thy love ! I repent of this, 
O my Jesus ! I regret with my whole heart of having 
offended Thee Thou who art. infinite goodness. Ah ! 

and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 323 

would that I had died rather than have ever displeased 
Thee! I hate and I detest more than every evil all the 
injury that I have heaped upon Thee. O Lord, my 
God ! I promise Thee, and I am resolved for the future 
to die rather than offend Thee again ; I also make the 
resolution to receive the sacraments during my life and 
at my death. The time that remains to me to live, 
whether it be short or long, I will spend entirely in lov 
ing Thee, O infinite Majesty, my only good, more amia 
ble than every other good ! But of what use will be all 
these promises that I have made to Thee, if Thou dost 
not help me, O God of my soul! Without Thy help I 
should betray Thee again, and I should do worse than 
before. This is, then, the grace that I ask of Thee, and 
that I hope through the merits of Thy Passion: give me 
holy perseverance, and do not permit it to happen that 
I should ever again be separated from Thee ; let me die 
rather than see myself again incur Thy displeasure. 


My Jesus, I thank Thee for all the graces that Thou 
hast conferred upon me: for having created me, for hav 
ing redeemed me by Thy blood, for having made me a 
Christian by the sacrament of baptism, and for having 
borne with me so long a time, when I was in disgrace 
with Thee. How unhappy should I be had I died in 
this state ! I should now be in hell, I should be lost 
there forever, O my God ! and I could no longer love 
Thee. I thank Thee, therefore, for having waited for 
me with so much patience, and for having pardoned me, 
as I trust that Thou hast done, with so much mercy. I 
especially thank Thee for having left Thyself for us in 
the Blessed Sacrament, for having so many times given 
Thyself entirely to me in Holy Communion by making 
Thyself our food, and for having at this moment deigned 
to admit me to Thy presence. I thank Thee for all these 

Visit to the Blessed Sacrament 

benefits, and I am confident that I will render Thee 
more perfect thanksgiving during all eternity in para 
dise, where I hope to sing Thy praises forever. 


My Jesus, through love of me Thou didst wish lo did 
in torments and insults on an infamous gibbet; what can 
I render Thee in return for so much goodness: I have 
only myself to offer Thee; I therefore, O Lord, my God, 
offer and consecrate myself entirely to Thee; I give Thee 
my soul, my body, my will, by submitting myself in all 
things and forever to Thy holy will; do with me as Thou 
wiliest. Make that I shall always love Thee in this life 
and in the next, and then dispose of me and of all that I 
am as Thou wishest. Tell me what Thou wishest of me; 
I am ready to do all with the help of Thy grace. 


O Lord ! I recommend to Thee the Sovereign Pontiff, 
all the Prelates, and all the priests: fill them with Thy 
spirit, in order that they may sanctify the whole world. 
I recommend to Thee unbelievers, heretics, and all sin 
ners: give them the light and the strength that they 
need, in order to give up sin and to study to love only 
Thee, who art the sovereign good. I recommend to 
Thee all the dying, all my relatives, my benefactors, and 
my friends; and I recommend to Thee also, in a special 
manner, my enemies; for Thou hast given me the com 
mand to do so: make them happy, and make them saints. 
I recommend to Thee the holy souls in purgatory: alle 
viate their sufferings, and abridge the time of their exile, 
in order that they may soon go to enjoy Thy presence 
in heaven. 

Finally, in regard to myself, I pray to Thee, O my 
Jesus, whom I adore on this altar in the Blessed 
Sacrament ! from the height of this throne of love, 

and to tJie Blessed Virgin Alary. 325 

grant me by Thy merits a great sorrow for my sins, 
and the pardon of all the offences that I have committed 
against Thee. Give me holy humility and meekness, in 
order that I may bear with patience all kinds of con 
tempt and all persecutions. Give me the grace to mor 
tify myself by abstaining from all that is not pleasing to 
Thee. Give me perfect resignation to Thy holy will, so 
that I may embrace with peace all the crosses that come 
to me from Thy hand. Give me sufficient light to know 
Thy holy wishes, and sufficient strength to fulfil them. 
Give me great confidence in Thy holy Passion and in 
the protection of Mary, Thy Mother. Give me the 
sovereign gift of Thy love, with a great desire of loving 
and pleasing Thee, so that in future I may always say 
to Thee what I now say: My God, it is Thou only whom 
I wish, and nothing more. Give me perseverance in 
Thy love till death, so that I may never lose Thy holy 
grace. Above all, do I ask Thee to help me always to 
ask of Thee this holy perseverance, by recommending 
myself always to Thee and to Thy holy Mother, especi 
ally when I am tempted to offend Thee; make me always 
repeat then: Jesus and Mary, help me. Eternal Father, 
for the love of Jesus, Thy Son, grant me all these graces. 


My Jesus, I love Thee with my whole heart, and I 
desire to be always united with Thee. Since I cannot 
now receive Thee sacramentally, I receive Thee spiritu 
ally. Come, then, into my heart; I embrace Thee, and 
unite myself wholly to Thee, and I beg Thee not to per 
mit me to be ever separated from Thee. 

After this we may recite the Litany of the Blessed 
Virgin, and then the following hymn should be sung: 

Pange, lingua, gloriosi 

Corporis mysterium, 

Sanguinisque pretiosi, 

326 Visit to tJie Blessed Sacrament 

Quern in mundi pretium, 
Fructus ventris generosi, 
Rex effudit gentium. 

Tantum ergo Sacramentum 

Venerernur cernui ; 
Et antiquum documentum 

Novo cedat ritui; 
Praestet fides supplementum 

Sensuum defectui. 

V. Panem de ccelo prsestitisti eis. 
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem. 

Or emus. 

Deus, qui nobis, sub Sacramento mirabili, passionis 
tuae memoriam reliquisti : tribue, quaesumus, ita nos 
Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut 
redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus. 
Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen. 

Visit to the Blessed Virgin. 

O great Queen of heaven, Most Holy and Immaculate 
Virgin Mary ! I, a miserable sinner, salute and honor 
thee as the Mother of my God. Thou art among all crea 
tures the most beautiful, the most holy, the most amia 
ble, and the best beloved of the Lord. My Sovereign, I 
love thee above all things after God; I wish to see thee 
loved by every one. I exceedingly rejoice at thy great 
ness, and I thank the Lord for having so much glorified 
thee. I also thank thee, who art my Mother, for all the 
graces that thou hast obtained for me from God in the 
course of my whole life. I offer myself to thee to be 
thy perpetual servant, and I place myself under thy pro 
tection; I place in thee all my hopes. Accept me, O my 
Queen ! and do not reject me as I deserve to be rejected. 
I know that thou art so powerful with God that he 

and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 327 

grants thee everything for which thou dost ask him. O 
Mother of mercy ! O Refuge of Sinners ! I place my soul 
into thy hands; pray, have pity on me: recommend me 
to thy divine Son, and obtain for me the pardon of all 
my sins, the love for God, and holy perseverance in his 
grace till death. Above all, I beg thee to obtain for me 
the grace of always recommending myself to thee, especi 
ally when I am tempted to offend God. Do not cease 
to help me during my life and my death. My tender 
Mother, I confide in thee; it is thou that is to save me 
through the merits of Jesus, thy Son, and through thy 
intercession. Amen. So I hope; so may it be. 


O Jesus, who for my sake didst not spare Thyself in 
anything ! impress upon me Thy Passion, in order that, 
on whatever side I may turn, I may look upon Thy 
.wounds, and may find rest only in Thee and in meditat 
ing on Thy sufferings. Amen. 

of (&imng Missions.* 

i. The Beginning of the Mission. 

IN the first place, it must be remarked that no one 
should go on a mission without having been sent by the 
Superiors; and the latter should never send mission 
aries, if they have not been asked for by the bishop or 
by the people of a place, with the consent of the bishop, 
of whom a request should be made for permission in 
writing and for the necessary powers. The subjects 
may not only show themselves disposed to give the mis 
sion, but may also modestly and resignedly manifest 
a desire to do so. 

Then, when they are on the point of setting out, they 
should inform the bishop, the arch-priest, or the parish 
priest of the time when they will arrive at the place 
where the mission is to be given, in order that the 
people may receive notice by the placards that are to be 
posted in conspicuous places; so also, in order that on 
their arrival the bells may be rung as on a festival, and 
the clergy may come to receive them, at the entrance 
of the city or village, with the cross which is afterwards 
handed to the Superior. The giving of this notice will 
also be necessary in order that the house, the beds, and 
the things necessary for the kitchen may be prepared or 
provided for. 

* In the Italian editions these regulations are found among the 
Letters and Circulars addressed by the holy founder to the members of 
his Institute; we may here see, briefly, how he directed his missions in 
the kingdom of Naples. ED. 

Method of Giving Missions. 329 

Before their departure they shall recite in common, in 
the church, the Itinerarium Clericorum ; then, after hav 
ing received the blessing from the Superior, who at 
this time will appoint him whom they should obey in 
his stead, they shall set out. On the journey they should 
select a suitable time for making their exercises of piety. 

On their arrival at the place of their destination, the 
clergy having come to meet them, as has been said 
above, the Superior shall take the cross, and they shall 
go in procession to the church while reciting in a loud 
voice the Benedictus. Arrived at the church, they shall 
visit, before all, the Blessed Sacrament, then the altar 
of the Blessed Virgin, and the altars of the holy patrons 
and titular saints, and pray to them most fervently that 
they may assist them in this great undertaking. They 
shall specially offer their homage to the guardian angels 
of the place, of the church, and of individuals, and im 
plore their help for the sanctification of those souls con 
fided to their care. 

When the fatigue of the journey does not prevent them, 
and the hour on a festival is suitable, especially if the 
number of the people in the church is sufficiently large, 
they may on that very day begin the mission by preach 
ing the first sermon, which should be preceded by the 
recitation of one of the three parts of the Rosary. But as 
this rarely happens, a short address should usually be given 
to the people assembled, by informing them of the end 
that the missionaries propose to themselves in coming 
to that place. They should be told that the mission 
aries bring with them a heart filled with charity 
towards all the people; that they come to work for the 
salvation of their souls by placing before their eyes the 
eternal truths truths of which they have neglected to 
think; by instructing them in the things necessary to save 
their souls, and by hearing their confessions with all the 
charity and patience that their state requires. Then 

330 Method of Giving Missions. 

without making an act of contrition, the people shall be 
dismissed, after they have been informed of the time 
when the mission is to begin on the following day. 

It should, however, be understood that, in regard to the 
beginning of the missions, one should not be positively 
restricted to an inviolable rule; the circumstances of the 
places, persons, etc., should be considered, and one 
should begin the missions in a most suitable manner, 
either by a discourse on the spot and making briefly an 
act of contrition, or [by a discourse in the church, after 
having walked through the place, or by a regular ser 
mon with or without an act of contrition. 

When the mission does not begin on the day of ar 
rival, the evening exhortation should not be omitted, 
and it should continue during three or four evenings, 
according to the necessities of the place. The first ex 
hortations given as an invitation should be more tender, 
expressing compassion for souls; the others shall be 
strong. They shall not be long, and should last a half 
or a quarter of an hour. They should not be given every 
evening in the same place; nor shall they be given 
immediately near suspected places, but where they 
can be heard by a large number. To give these ex 
hortations the missionaries should always leave the 
church with the cross, burning candles, and the little 
bell, while singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. 
Arrived at the place where a stop is to be made, the 
little bell should be rung, and there shall be said with 
a loud voice: Praised be the Most Blessed Sacrament 
and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin! 
Then, after having announced to the people that the 
mission has begun or is to begin the day after, the ex 
hortation should be given. When it is finished, the 
people, who are accustomed to follow, should be con 
ducted to the church or at the entrance, where an act of 
1 Page 95. 

Method of Giving Missions. 331 

contrition is made, and then they may be dismissed 
with a blessing with the crucifix. The women should 
be notified not to follow; for after having heard the 
exhortation, they should go home. The missionaries 
should attach great importance to these exhortations, 
which usually produce very great fruit in the holy mis 
sions; they should not on any account be omitted; they 
should not be improvised; and before going forth to 
give them, one shall take care to prepare for them by 
fervent prayers. 

If the day after the arrival is a festival, and the mis 
sion has not been begun by the first sermon, confessions 
should not be heard in the morning of this festival, but 
an impassioned sermon should be delivered on the effi 
cacy of the holy mission in securing the eternal salva 
tion of Christians, or on the miserable state in which 
Christianity is found, or on the dangers to which those 
that have sinned have exposed themselves, etc. This 
sermon should not be concluded by an act of contrition, 
but by an exhortation to profit by the grace that our 
Lord has sent in this mission, with an explanation of 
the exercises that are performed in the course of it; and 
an invitation that all should attend all these exercises, 
especially the procession which is to leave the church 
after dinner. The clergy should specially be invited to 
come to this procession, clad in long cassocks without 

At twenty-one o clock, 1 when all the priests have as 
sembled in the church, the procession with the cross 
should start from the church and pass through the city 
or village while singing the Litany of the Blessed Vir 
gin; the place most populated having been reached, a 
stop should be made, and a Father from an elevation 
shall deliver a short discourse to the people, to induce 
them to profit by this occasion to change their lives; 

1 Old Italian reckoning, that is, two hours and a half before sunset. 

332 Method of Giving Missions. 

but no act of contrition need be added. Then all should 
re-enter the church. During the procession the Fathers 
who take part in it may say a few words of exhortation 
wherever they meet people congregated, by inviting all 
of them to come to the sermon. The church being 
reached, one of the three parts of the Rosary with its mys 
teries should be recited (this should be done every day 
before the sermon), and then the Father shall ascend 
the pulpit to preach, but without surplice and without 
stole, and he shall conclude it with a fervent act of con 
trition drawn from a motive suggested by the sermon. 

If the exercises of the mission has not been announced 
in the morning, as has been said above, the people 
should be informed of this after the first evening ser 
mon; they should be exhorted to frequent all these 
exercises with all possible fervor, the hour for each 
exercise being mentioned to them. The ecclesiastics, 
the magistrates, the principal men, should be requested 
to be the first to be present for the sake of good ex 
ample; and even when it is possible, two Fathers shall 
go, in the name of all, to visit and invite the chief man 
of the place, the governor, or any other distinguished 
person, to obtain their assistance and their favor; and 
if the mission is given in the city, they should send a 
similar invitation to the Chapter when it has assembled 
before or after Vespers; and its assistance and support 
should also be asked. 

2. Various Exercises. 

The exercises should take place punctually at the 
time fixed; namely, the meditation at an early hour in 
the morning; Christian doctrine or catechism, early 
after dinner; the exercises for priests in a retired place, 
after Vespers; and the evening sermon at an hour con 
venient for the close of the day; however, if the people 
cannot assemble so soon, as frequently happens in winter 

Method of Giving Missions. 333 

where there are workingmen, the sermon may be given 
later, unless the will of the bishop, or some other reason 
able cause, is opposed to such an arrangement. 

I. In the morning, as soon as a sufficient number of 
people have assembled, one of the three parts of the 
Rosary is recited, unless this would interfere with the 
Masses, and much more, with hearing confessions. Then 
a Father shall enter the pulpit and salute the people, 
saying: Praised be the Most Blessed Sacrament and the 
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary! 
After this he shall say the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. 
Then he shall give, remaining on his knees, a short 
familiar MEDITATION/ preceded by the Christian Acts. 
This meditation shall be made on a subject pertaining 
to the purgative way; but care should be taken not to 
take the subject that is to be treated in the evening ser 
mon, or at least, the same points. The Father shall 
conclude by making acts of contrition, without however 
taking the crucifix. This exercise, including all the 
acts, should not last more than three quarters of an 

II. During the day, the exercise of the CHRISTIAN 
DOCTRINE, or CATECHISM/ shall take place. It shall be 
intrusted by the Superior to a subject whom he shall 
judge to be the most capable; and this exercise should 
be regarded as one of the most precious and most im 
portant of the holy mission. 

An instruction shall be given on the precepts of the 
Decalogue and on the manner of confessing, and shall 
be given at a time most convenient for the people. If 
the people can come in the morning at the first hour, 
the instruction is to be given first, and then the medita 
tion; in case the number of missionaries is insufficient, 
.one may even omit the meditation, but never the in 
struction; however, when only the instruction is given, 
1 Page 254. - Page 169. 

334 Method of Giving Missions. 

one should make moral reflections, and finish with acts 
of contrition, etc.; and in smaller and poorer places only 
an instruction made in this manner will do good. 

Afterwards, the Prefect of the church shall assemble 
the children to instruct them on confession and Com 
munion. 1 

III. Before the sermon a Father shall say the ROSARY 3 
of the Blessed Virgin, and begin by a short introduction 
or a short example, in order to dispose the people to re 
cite it with devotion; he shall announce the mysteries 
with some short consideration, having always in view 
to make the people recite one of the three parts of the 
Rosary; for the principal end for which this exercise 
has been introduced is to obtain from the Blessed Vir 
gin that she should deign to co-operate in the success 
of the mission. However, when the instruction takes 
place after dinner, it will be better to recite the Rosary 
before the instruction, in order to have more people to 
recite it; then, between the instruction and the sermon, 
a hymn shall be sung, but these hymns should never be 
sung in the pulpit. 

IV. Then the principal or great sermon 3 is to be given 
at the most convenient hour, as has been said, and with 
out surplice or stole; it should last at most an hour and 
a half, inclusively of all the acts that are to be performed 
at the end with the crucifix and the torches. The 
preacher should be mindful not to finish the sermon 
without urging the people to invoke the Blessed Virgin; 
and for this purpose a statue of Mary should be ex 

In regard to the ceremonies, it is forbidden to utter 
maledictions, to use the chain or any other instrument 
to draw blood, to burn one s self with the torch, and the 
like. But the Superior may sometimes permit the use of 

1 Pages 140 and 156 2 Page 130. 3 Page 179. 

Method of Giving Missions. 335 

the rope and of the skull, when this is done with zeal, 
prudence, and discretion. 

It has been established by the General Chapter, that 
in the missions and spiritual exercises a sermon on the 
Blessed Virgin should always be preached, this being 
most profitable, as experience proves. The Fathers 
should endeavor, in all their sermons, always to make 
mention of the love for Jesus Christ and of recourse to 
the Blessed Virgin; since all of us, if we wish to save 
our souls, should truly love Jesus Christ, and often have 
recourse to the divine Mother. 1 

The Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament shall take 
place only on the day of the blessing, as is seen farther 

V. After the evening sermon the exercise of the DIS 
CIPLINE 2 shall be performed for the men, four or five 
times during the mission; and on the last evening the 
exercise of trailing the tongue; but when the exercise 
of the discipline takes place, the evening exhortations 
shall cease. 

As for the discipline, a Father shall, first, give a short 
exhortation drawn from the sermon, and then, in the 
middle of the discipline, at some verse of the Miserere, 
he shall also say a few words of compunction. The 
discipline shall last only during this Miserere; then one 
of the people should be made to say three " Hail Marys " 
in honor of the Immaculate Conception, with the face on 
the ground, and finish by a penitential hymn. 

On the two or three last evenings, after the discipline, 
an EXHORTATION OF PEACE 3 should be given, and those 
that come to be reconciled shall embrace each other be 
fore the crucifix; but before calling the enemy, a Father 
shall secretly listen to the one that presents himself; he 
should gather information about the cause of the enmity, 

1 Page 302. 2 Page 118. 3 Page 126. 

336 Method of Giving Missions. 

and shall see whether he that has come is the offended 
party who wishes to pardon, whether the enmity is not 
secret, or whether the reconciliation might not have 
some other inconveniences. 

VI. The last day before the exercise of a devout life,* 
the sermon of the BLESSING J shall be preached after 
dinner, in the following manner: 

At first the recitation of the Rosary shall be begun; 
and there will be no instruction; in the middle of the 
Rosary the procession of the Blessed Sacrament will 
take place, which a Father shall carry only outside of 
the door of the church, when he shall give three bless 
ings towards the fields, the first blessing being given in 
the middle, and the other two at the right and the left; 
then the procession returns, and the Blessed Sacrament is 
exposed on the altar; and if the preacher has not yet 
arrived, the Rosary should be continued. The preacher 
having ascended the pulpit, on this day, with surplice 
and stole, the Blessed Sacrament should be veiled; then 
follows the sermon, with the benediction with the cru 
cifix. Afterwards five "Our Fathers "and five " Hail 
Marys " are recited to gain the indulgence of the mis 
sion just finished, and the preacher shall intone the Te 
Deum. The priest at the altar shall sing the prayer 
Dens cujus misericordice. After this the Pange lingua and 
the Tantum ergo, etc., should be sung; and before the 
blessing, the preacher shall address from the altar an 
other exhortation to the people, by having them prom 
ise to come to the exercises of the devout life, 

VII. On the morning of this same day there shall be 
a GENERAL COMMUNION of grown persons; for the Com- 

1 Page 234. 

* This custom of preaching the last sermon before the exercise of 
the devout life was followed by St. Alphonsus only during the first 
years of his apostolate, as has been explained above, page 234. ED. 

Method of Giving Missions. 337 

munion of children of fifteen years of age and over should 
be made separately on another day, either before or after, 
as may appear best. 

Before the Communion of grown persons, the preacher 
or another Father shall ascend the pulpit, placed in the 
middle of the church, and as a preparation for Com 
munion, shall make with the crucifix the acts of faith, 
humility, love, and contrition; then he shall have them 
make peace; after that he shall make the act of desire, 
and then Communion shall be given; he shall conclude 
with thanksgiving. 

At the Communion of children, peace shall not be 
made, but hymns in honor of the Blessed Sacrament are 
to be sung as preparation and thanksgiving, After the 
thanksgiving, they shall go in procession through the 
city or village, singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin; 
on their return to the church, some instruction adapted 
to their age should be given, and after the blessing with 
the crucifix they shall return home. 

VIII. The last three days, or at least, in certain places, 
the last two, the EXERCISES OF THE DEVOUT LIFE are to 
be given, and should never be omitted, according to a 
decree of the Chapter; one should try to introduce them 
permanently. In the afternoon, after having recited 
the little chaplet of the Sorrows of Mary, or of the 
Infant Jesus, and the Rosary if time permits, the 
preacher himself shall give from the pulpit a half- 
hour s instruction on mental prayer, on the prepara 
tion for Communion and thanksgiving after it, and on 
the rule of life that is to be followed for self-sanctifica- 
tion. Then, on his knees and without a surplice, he 
shall give a meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ 
and on the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin, whose statue 
should be draped in mourning. He shall conclude by 
acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition firm purpose, 

1 Pages 230 and 23^, 

338 Method of Giving Missions. 

with the protestation of wishing to die fortified with 
the sacraments, and by putting into the act of contri 
tion some pious hymn on the Passion of Jesus Christ; 
and he will dismiss the people with the blessing with 
the crucifix. 

IX. One should not fail to make the mission last at 
least ten or twelve days in small places. 

Moreover, it must be observed that if there should be 
some little hamlet away from the place of mission, the Su 
perior may send some Fathers there to preach and to hear 
confessions as long as he shall judge this to be necessary. 

It will be the duty of the Prefect of the church (i) to 
read the prayers; (2) to give notice to the Fathers of 
the time in which they may say Mass in succession, so 
that they may finish before the hour of going to the 
house; (3) to notify the Fathers of the time when the 
exercises are to take place; (4) after having been told 
by the Superior, to give the sign when the Fathers 
should retire; (5) to procure what is needful for the 
church; (6) to give instructions in catechism, to give 
the colloquies, exhortations, to say the Rosary, etc. 

3. Rules of Conduct for the Fathers on Missions. 

I. No one shall go on missions by himself; in little 
missions there should be at least two, or at least, in case 
of necessity, the Father should be accompanied by a 
lay-brother or a strange priest. They shall always go 
united by that charity qua major essc non potest, remem 
bering that it is a special commandment given by his 
divine Majesty to the apostles, and through the apostles 
to all the missionaries who should follow them: Hoc est 
pr<ceptum meum, ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos. Man- 
datum novum de vobis, ut diligatis invicem. Pater sancte 
serva eos, . . . ut sint unum, sicut et nos? They should 
also remember the qualities of charity, enumerated by 
1 Pages 292 and 297. 2 John, xv. 12; xiii. 34; xvii. n. 

Method of Giving Missions. 339 

the Apostle: Charitas patiens cst, bcnigna est; charitas non 
ccmulatiir, non agit perpcram, non inflatur, etc. 1 However, 
when they must go to give invitations, or do anything 
that regards the service of God, and have not to spend 
the night elsewhere, they may be accompanied by some 
priest or cleric, if their own companions are too few. 

II. They shall always travel to the missions on foot, 
as was done by his divine Majesty, and as was done by 
the holy apostles, unless strict necessity obliges them to 
use an ordinary and plain conveyance; they shall not 
travel on horseback without necessity. No entreaties 
whatsoever should induce them to accept any other 
convenience for travelling, unless they must make the 
journey by water. 

Outside of the missions, if a carriage is offered them, 
they may use it, provided they need not change their 
dress; the same thing holds good if any person of dis 
tinction should invite a Father to ride in his carriage. 

III. The place where the mission is to be given having 
been reached, the time for the exercises should be 
arranged, and the arrangement should be adhered to as 
much as possible. There shall be seven hours of sleep 
in winter, and in spring six and a half hours, with an 
hour of rest after dinner. Missions should not be given 
in summer. 

The Fathers during the mission should regularly 
retire from the church about noon, and they should go 
to bed in the evening about two hours before midnight. 

The Superior shall at the same time appoint the 
Fathers who have to take charge of the church, of the 
reconciliations, and of the domestic arrangements. 

IV. In the church the Fathers shall keep the confes 
sionals to which they have been assigned. 

V. In the place where the mission is given they should 

1 i Cor. i. 34. 

340 Method of Giving Missions. 

take care always to avoid familiarity and useless con 
versation with externs. 

VI. At the house they shall make a half-hour s medi 
tation twice a day, and at least once when they have 
not sufficient time. 

VII. At table silence should be kept. They shall 
read the lives of the saints during dinner, and a book 
on the Blessed Virgin at least during part of the supper; 
but on days of general Communion, and when they are 
tired from hearing confessions or from some other cause, 
the reading should continue only a little while. 

A half-hour s recreation will be sufficient as well after 
dinner as after supper. 

VIII. In regard to the expenses of the mission, nothing 
should ever be asked unless it be a house, beds, furni 
ture, and some kitchen utensils.* If afterwards some 
one offers them food or wine, or even all that is needed 
for their meals, they shall receive all with thanks; but 
they must not fail to refuse whatever is superfluous, and 
all delicacies. They should usually have only two por 
tions, namely, soup and boiled meat, there being added 
at most some other frugal portion, as cheese and fruit; 
they shall touch nothing else, and shall plead their Rule 
in excuse; for in this manner others will be edified, 
expense and even scandal will be avoided. 

It shall never be permitted to accept money, even for 
Masses, nor delicacies, as fowl, birds, dainties, sweet 
meats, fine confectionery, and the like; nor, finally, 
presents to be carried away, of whatever kind they may 

Here is what should be the ordinary food in the mis 
sions: at dinner, soup, boiled meat, cheese and fruit; at 

* It should be known that St. Alphonsus and his companions when 
on missions, often numbering from fifteen to twenty Fathers in large 
places, lodged in a special building, and were served by their "own lay- 
brothers, without being a burden to *ny one, ED, 

Method of Giving Missions. 34 1 

supper, salad and another portion, cheese and fruit 
when they can be had: otherwise, one must arrange 
things as well as one can; but one should always be 
careful to avoid luxury, delicacy, and what is super 
fluous in the quantity of food. 

IX. In the missions or other exercises of devotion for 
the people, when the bishop asks for them or prescribes 
them, the spiritual exercises shall be given to the relig 
ious or nuns, and one may be extraordinary confessor; 
but outside of these occasions, such a thing is forbid 
den, except for the nuns of the Most Holy Saviour when 
they show a great veneration for these exercises. 

liable of Mission Sermons.* 

i. Introduction to the Mission. 

GOOD that is effected by the holy missions, see Letter 
to a bishop, page 73 

2. Motives for Conversion. 

The importance of salvation, sermon xn. 

Dangers to eternal salvation, s. ix. 

Death is certain and uncertain, s. xxxin. 

The death of the sinner, s. xxxvin. 

The practical death, or what ordinarily happens at 
the death of men of the world, s. XLIV. 

Straits and anguish of dying Christians who have 
been negligent during life about the duties of religion, 
s. LI. 

The death of the just, s. xi. 

The particular judgment, s. xxxvu. 

The general judgment, s. L. 

The pains of hell, s. x. 

The remorse of the damned, s. vin. 

The eternity of hell, s. L. 

The unhappy life of sinners, and the happy life of 
those that love God, s. xin. 

The mercy of God towards sinners, s. xxxn. 

The vanity of the world, s. xxxv. 

All ends and soon ends, s. XLIII. 

* These sermons, to be preached in the missions, are to be found 
in Volume XVI of the Centenary Edition. En. 

Plan for Mission Sermons. 343 

3. Obstacles to Conversion. 

Dangers to eternal salvation, s. ix. 

Delusions of sinners, s. xiv. 

The malice of mortal sin, s. vi. 

The evil effects of bad habits, s. xx. 

Bad thoughts, s. XLVII. 

The predominant passion, s. XLIX. 

Scandals, s. xxm. 

The sin of anger, s. xxxiv. 

Blasphemy, s. LIII. 

Impurity, s. XLV. 

The vice of speaking immodestly, s. XL. 

Concealing sins in confession, s. xvn. 

4. Means of Conversion. 

In what true wisdom consists, s. v. 

Means necessary for salvation, s. TIL 

The conditions of prayer, s. xxvi. 

Heaven, s. xvi. 

The love of Jesus Christ for us, and our obligation to 
love him, s. iv. 

The love of the three divine Persons for men, s. xxix. 

The tender compassion that Jesus Christ entertains 
towards sinners. 

The value of time, s. xxiv. 

5. Perseverance in Conversion. 

In the last sermons of the mission we recommend 
perseverance to the people. We speak to them chiefly 
of the great danger to which those expose themselves 
who fall back into sin after the mission; and therefore 
we try to impress upon the memory of the faithful the 
means to be employed to avoid a relapse into sin, 
namely, in the first place, the avoiding of the occasions, of 
bad company, and of human respect; in the second place, 

344 Plan for Mission Sermons. 

the frequentation of the sacraments and prayer, or re 
course to God in temptations, being careful to ask him 
every day for the grace of holy perseverance. 

We add the sermon on the Blessed Virgin, which 
we recommend in such a way that it should never be 
omitted; for it produces greater fruit than all the rest. 
I know by experience that a certain sinner, who had 
been insensible to all other sermons, was converted by 
the sermon on the Blessed Virgin. We should not re 
gard this sermon as an extraordinary thing on missions: 
Blessed Leonard of Port Maurice, in all his missions, 
never omitted the sermon on the Blessed Virgin; the 
same thing must be said of Father Segneri, Junior. This 
is the practice in our Congregation of the Most Holy 
Redeemer, and I know that other missionaries have fol 
lowed the same custom. It is certain that if a soul 
acquires a true devotion to the Mother of God, and con 
tinues to recommend itself often to her intercession, 
this great Queen will obtain for it the grace of perse 
vering in virtue; for she is called the Mother of Perse 

The sermon on prayer. should also never be omitted, 
since it is of the highest importance; for if those that 
have followed the mission do not continue to recommend 
themselves to God, it is certain that they will not perse 
vere. When there is no time to treat this sermon sepa 
rately, the preacher, at least in the other sermons that he 
preaches in the mission or spiritual exercises, should not 
omit frequently to exhort his hearers always to recom 
mend themselves to Jesus and to Mary, since prayer, 
according to the teaching of St. Augustine, is the only 
means of obtaining God s grace, and especially holy 

The following are the sermons that refer to perse 

The abuse of divine mercy, sermon XLI. 

Plan for Mission Sermons. 345 

The miserable state of relapsing sinners, s. xxi. 

The avoiding of the occasions of sin, s. XXIL 

The avoiding of bad company, s. XLII. 

Human respect, s. xxvu. 

Obedience to the confessor, s. xxv. 

Holy Communion, s. xxxi. 

The efficacy and necessity of prayer, s. xxix. 

Confidence with which we should recommend our 
selves to the Mother of God, s. vn. 

Moreover, before preaching the last sermon, several 
Congregations of Missionaries, such as the Pious Work 
ers, the priests of the Purity of Mary, and our Con 
gregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, are accustomed, 
on two or three days, to give, instead of a sermon, a 
meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ, this exercise 
is very useful for the perseverance of the faithful who 
have made the mission. He that leaves sin only through 
fear of chastisement, after the mission is finished loses 
sight of what has frightened him, and easily relapses into 
his old sins; but he that is attached to God through 
love, easily perseveres in a good life. Hence, on these 
two or three days, the preacher of the mission will give 
a half-hour s instruction on mental prayer by teaching 
the people the manner of easily making it; he shall also 
teach them the manner of making preparation and 
thanksgiving for Communion. Then he shall make the 
meditation by considering the mysteries of the Passion, 
and by interspersing it with pious affections, acts of 
contrition and of love, and holy resolutions. The mis 
sionaries shall recommend to the parish priest to have 
meditation made every day in common for the people. 

346 Plan for Mission Sermons. 


Advantages of the spiritual exercises (as an introduc 
tion), see Volume III, page 285. 

In what true wisdom consists, sermon v. 

The value of time, s. xxiv. 

The abuse of divine mercy, s. XLI. 

The straits and anguish of dying Christianas who have 
been negligent during life about the duties of religion, 
s. LI. 

The particular judgment, s. xxxvu. 

The pain of loss which the damned suffer in hell, is 

The confidence with which we should recommend our 
selves to the Mother of God, s. vn. 

The love of Jesus Christ for us, and our obligation 
to love him, s. iv. 

Instructions for tljc 

ST. ALPHONSUS published these INSTRUCTIONS in Italian in the course 
of the year 1767, during his episcopate. In the following year he pub 
lished the same in Latin, with this title: Institutio catechistica ad popu- 
lum in prcecepta Decalogi et Sacramenta. The literal translation of the 
title of the Italian edition is as follows: " Instructions for the people 
on the precepts of the Decalogue, in order that they may be better 
observed, and on the sacraments, in order that they may be better 
received, for the use of parish priests and of missionaries and of all 
ecclesiastics that are employed in teaching Christian doctrine." 

We read in the Life of the holy author: This work forms, it is true, 
only a small volume, but its usefulness is very great; it was also favor 
ably received especially by the parish priests. The royal examiner 
speaks of it thus: Whether one considers the matter of the thoughts 
of his treatise, or the manner in which they are expressed, every one 
that examines it with attention must see that it is worthy of its author s 
name, that is to say, of a learned man full of zeal for God s honor and 
the salvation of souls. 

" In this work the holy prelate again attacks those rigorous minds 
who, in affecting great purity of doctrine, and in pretending to bring 
back the faithful to the favor of the Christianity of primitive ages, 
oppress souls by an insupportable yoke, with which Jesus Christ never 
loaded them. This is not the doctrine of the Church, he said, for 
she glories in being a mother, and not a cruel step-mother. Jansenius 
and his followers have invented this severity; I would ask if the number 
of souls whom they have caused to fall into hell through an erring con 
science does not exceed the number of those whom they have led to 
paradise. Besides, it is clear that the sentiments which they have 
adopted are not those of the holy bishops whom we honor on our altars, 
nor of those saintly laborers who have sacrificed their blood and their 
life for the salvation of but one soul. We have not yet seen a Jansenist 
who has lost an hour s sleep to insure the salvation of a soul. " (Tannoia . 
and Villecourt, 1. iii. ch. 38.) 

He who spoke thus was himself one of those evangelical laborers so 
devoted to the salvation of souls, and one of those bishops of high per 
fection whom the Church honors on her altars. The wise teachings 
that he gives us have produced and do not cease to produce in the 
whole Church wonderful fruits of salvation. ED. 

Ijittts to t!)c 


i. THE catechetical instruction to the people consists 
of three parts: i. The INTRODUCTION; 2. The EXPOSITION 
of the mystery, sacrament, or precept to be spoken of; 
and, 3. The MORAL, with the means and remedies to be 
employed against the different vices. 

i. Introduction. 

The INTRODUCTION must consist in a statement of the 
subject-matter of the instruction, and of the different 
points into which the subject is divided. If the matter 
be connected with that of the preceding instruction, the 
catechist may begin by briefly repeating the points 
explained in that instruction; but if the matter be dif 
ferent, he may begin by showing the importance of the 
subject of which he is about to speak. 

2. The Exposition. 

With regard to the EXPOSITION of the mystery, sacra 
ment, or precept, the catechist must attend to several 

I. He must prove the mystery, sacrament, or precept 
to be explained by authorities, by reasons, by similes, 
and authentic facts. I say authorities, but let them be 
few, and be sparing of Latin quotations, as the illiter- 

1 There is question here of the large catechism, about which instruc 
tion is given to adults; as for the little catechism for children, see page 

350 Hints to the Catechist. 

ate, of whom the audience at catechism generally con 
sist, understand little or no Latin. Scholastic questions 
are not suited to the pulpit, and must therefore be alto 
gether avoided, but particularly before the uninstructed, 
who are easily disturbed by such questions, and may 
often draw from them erroneous conclusions. 

II. Care must be taken not to propound doctrines 
which may lead the hearers to a pernicious looseness of 
conscience. It is one thing to speak in the confessional, 
where all the circumstances of the case are weighed, 
and you have to deal with a particular person, and 
another to speak in the pulpit, where a proposition 
may be misunderstood by those who are inclined to 
laxity, and may lead them to loose and improbable con 
clusions. However, it is necessary to correct the errone 
ous consciences of some, who believe there is sin where 
there is none. For example: Some uninstructed persons 
imagine that their judgments and suspicions are rash 
even when they have sufficient foundation to judge and 
suspect. It is necessary to teach them that such judg 
ments or suspicions are neither rash nor sinful, and 
therefore not matter for confession. Others believe it 
to be a mortal sin simply to curse a creature such as 
the day, the wind, the rain, and the like; others think it 
a grievous detraction to make known to a parent the 
sins of his children, even though it be necessary for 
their correction; others imagine that they sin by not 
observing a precept of the Church, such as hearing 
Mass, abstaining from servile work, or fasting, even 
when they are excused by a legitimate cause. In all 
these, and similar cases, the catechist should explain 
that there is no sin. 

III. When any actions are certainly sinful, it is the 
duty of the instructors to teach that they are so, even 
though some persons should think the contrary; but 
particularly when there is reason to fear that these per- 

Hints to the Catechist. 351 

sons will contract a habit of these acts, which they will 
not be able to correct without great difficulty after they 
have come to the knowledge of their sinfulness. For 
example, some think it only a venial sin to curse holidays, 
such as Holy Saturday, Easter, and Pentecost; it is 
necessary to teach them that such curses are really in 
jurious to God, and mortal sins. Some also believe 
that it is only a venial sin to expose themselves to the 
proximate occasion of sin. The catechist must explain 
that those who do not abstain from voluntary proxi 
mate occasions of grievous sin are guilty of a mortal 
sin, even though they have the intention of not com 
mitting the bad act, to the danger of which they expose 
themselves. It is also necessary to teach that those 
who use superstitious and vain observances for the cure 
of diseases, or the like, are guilty of mortal sin. He 
must also inculcate on those who are prepared to take 
revenge for an insult which they may receive, that they 
are continually in a state of sin, and that, if they die 
in that disposition, they will be lost. So, also, women 
must be taught it is a sin to take pleasure in being ad 
mired and desired by men, if this pleasure arises from 
vanity, and not from a wish to be married to them. 

IV. There are some catechists who are fond of filling 
their instructions with amusing and curious stories, and 
assert that this is necessary to draw a large audience, 
and to keep up their attention and prevent tediousness. 
This one thing I know, that the saints, in their instruc 
tions, instead of exciting laughter, moved the people to 
tears. We read in the life of St. John Francis Regis, 
that the people wept throughout the catechetical in 
structions which he gave in the missions. I do not 
censure a jest which naturally arises from the subject 
treated; but to tell ridiculous stories, for the purpose 
of making the people laugh, is to turn the instruction 
into a farce, and is unbecoming the sanctity of the 

35 2 Hints to the Catechist. 

church, and the dignity of the pulpit from which the 
word of God is announced, and in which the instructor 
fulfils the office of an ambassador of Jesus Christ. For 
Christ therefore, says St. Paul, we are ambassadors. 1 The 
people certainly take delight in hearing and laughing at 
such trifles; but what profit do they draw from it? 
After the laughter, the hearers will be so distracted, 
that it will be very difficult afterwards to compose their 
thoughts; and instead of listening to the moral (which 
our witty catechist will find rather hard to adduce from 
his jokes, and at the same time avoid appearing to be a 
quack), if nothing worse happens they will continue to 
revolve in their minds the witty expressions and ridicu 
lous incidents which they have heard. Such a catechist 
may acquire the character of a facetious and pleasing 
instructor, but he will not be considered a man of sanc 
tity and zeal, and therefore will produce but little fruit 
in the hearts of his hearers. It is a mistake to imagine 
that without jests of this sort the people will not come 
to the catechism, nor be attentive to it. I say that 
greater numbers will come to the church, and will pay 
more attention to the instruction, when they find that 
they draw fruit and devotion from it, and that their 
time is not spent unprofitably. 

V. The catechist must pay great attention to the 
language of his instructions. The style of catechetical 
lectures should be altogether simple and popular, and 
does not admit of polished language or rounded periods. 
These are, as St. Francis de Sales says, the pest even of 
sermons. Preachers who are full of the Spirit of God 
do not seek after leaves and flowers of this kind, for by 
them the fruit of God s word is lost, while hell gathers 
its harvest of souls. The word of God has no need of 
ornaments; the simpler it is, the more fruit it bears. 

" Pro Christo ergo legatione fungimur." 2 Cor. v. 20. 

Hints to the Catechist. 353 

Oh! how many preachers shall we see condemned to 
eternal torments, for having adulterated God s word 
with their flowery language ! If all preached like the 
apostles, hell could not make such havoc among souls 
as it does at present, with all these elegant and pompous 
sermons. Even panegyrics, as the great Muratori says, 
should be simple, so as to move the people to imitate 
the virtues of the saints, not so as to make them bestow 
a little smoke and empty praise on the preacher. But 
I have written a little work on this point, in which I 
show, with Muratori, that -all sermons and panegyrics 
should be simple and popular. For the chief part of the 
audience is made up of the lower orders, who will find 
little or no profit unless the language is popular and 
adapted to their capacity; and this applies to all ser 
mons. But in missions it is an unpardonable mistake 
to preach in an elegant style, particularly at catechism, 
where the object is to teach the illiterate what they must 
believe and practise, how they must make their confes 
sions, and how they should recommend themselves to 
God. If the style is not altogether popular, and suited 
to their capacity, the time both of the instructor and of 
the people is lost. I said that the style should be popu 
lar, not childish; some speak with the most childish 
simplicity; but childishness is never fit for the pulpit. I 
also said that the language should be accommodated to 
the capacity of the people. The instructor, then, must 
use short sentences, so he will have his audience more 
attentive. It is useful frequently to propose questions, 
arid to reply to them; it contributes greatly to keep up 
the attention of the people, and to fix the instruction in 
their memory. Many practical examples of this will be 
found in the following pages. 


354 Hints to the Catechist. 

3. The Moral. 

In the MORAL, the catechist must not only instruct the 
understanding, but also more particularly endeavor to 
move the will of his hearers to avoid sins and to adopt 
the remedies against them. The sins committed through 
the malice of the will are much more numerous than 
those that are committed through ignorance of the 
understanding. The moral of a catechetical instruction 
should be shorter than that of a sermon. It should be 
delivered with warmth, but not in the style of a sermon, 
and without declamation. It is sometimes useful in the 
instruction to exclaim against some commoner form of 
vice, against some current worldly maxim, or against 
those frivolous pretences which wicked men employ to 
excuse their vices, or as when they say: " All are not to 
be saints; we are but flesh and blood; God Is merciful; 
others do as we do." These excuses must be answered 
with great vigor, so as to root out the prejudices by 
which many persons regulate their conduct, and there 
fore never amend their lives. But these declamations 
must be rare; otherwise the instruction will assume the 
appearance of a sermon, which is quite out of order. 

Let the catechist, then, not only aim at completely 
extirpating these false maxims, but also labor to impress 
on the minds of his hearers some really salutary truths, 
which will contribute greatly to preserve souls in the 
grace of God. For example: " What will it profit a man 
to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own 
soul?" Death puts an end to all things. Eternity has 
no end. Let all be lost, provided God be not lost. Sin 
is the only evil which we have to fear. He possesses all 
things who possesses God. All pains are little to him 
who has merited hell. A man must conquer all his pas 
sions to preserve his soul. What does a Christian know, 
if he has not learned to bear an insult for God s sake ? 

Hints to the Catechist. 355 

He who prays receives all he wants. What comes from 
God is all really good and supremely useful. Sanctity 
consists in loving God. The love of God consists in 
doing his will in all things. This kind of maxims of 
Christian morality should be often repeated, as occasion 
offers, that they may be impressed on the minds of the 
people, and take deep root in them. 

The catechist must frequently repeat, in his instruc 
tions, certain admonitions which are peculiarly neces 
sary for the salvation of souls: 

1. He must caution people against making sacrilegious 
confessions by concealing sins through shame. It is cer 
tain that through this accursed shame numberless souks 
are lost. Some are so much under its influence that 
they make sacrilegious confessions even to the mission 
aries. Hence, it is necessary to speak frequently on 
this subject, but particularly in the missions; for the 
person who conceals a sin during the retreat will never 
afterwards confess it To deter the people from these 
sacrileges, it will be useful to relate a number of in 
stances of souls that have been damned for sacrilegious 
confessions. I have given several such examples at the 
end of this book. 

2. It is necessary to inculcate frequently the necessity 
of avoiding dangerous occasions; for, if proximate occa 
sions, especially of carnal sins, are not avoided, all other 
means will be useless for our salvation. 

3. It is necessary to inculcate the necessity of prayer, or 
of frequently asking help from God to avoid sin. He 
who does not recommend himself to God, but particu 
larly in the time of temptation, is certainly lost; and, 
therefore, the catechist must, in his instructions, fre 
quently exhort the people, in all temptations, but par 
ticularly in temptations against purity, to invoke Jesus 
and Mary, and to continue to invoke them as long as 
the temptation lasts. He who prays is not afraid of 

356 Hints to the Catechist. 

falling into sin, for he has God to help him. St. Teresa 
used to say that she would like to stand on a mountain, 
and cry out only these words, " O souls ! pray, pray, 

4. The instructor must frequently exhort the people 
to the love of God; he who does not love God, and only 
abstains from sin through fear of hell, is in great danger 
of relapsing into sin as soon as the lively sensation of 
fear ceases; but he who has once come to love Jesus 
Christ, will afterwards find it hard to fall into mortal 
sin. For this purpose the meditation on the Passion of 
Jesus Christ is most profitable. St. Bonaventure says 
that the wounds of Jesus Christ are wounds which would 
soften hearts of stone and inflame minds of ice. 1 Hence 
it is necessary to make a short mental prayer every day, 
and to make frequent acts of love to Jesus Christ, and 
to ask frequently of God the gift of his love. 

5. The instructor must, above all, recommend to the 
people frequent confession and Communion, from which 
souls receive strength to persevere in the grace of God. 
It is not enough to say this once; he must repeat it over 
and over again; because all the people are not present 
at the instruction on confession and Communion, and 
also because the frequent repetition of an advice con 
tributes to impress on them the necessity of putting it 
in practice. But it may be said, that the people grow 
tired of hearing the one thing over and over again. 
But what then? Some fastidious people may be 
annoyed, but all the rest will derive profit, especially 
the uninstructed, who, unless they hear the same thing 
over and over again, forget it at once. 

6. The instructor should, as often as an opportunity 
presents itself, teach practical lessons to the people, and 
even suggest the words which they should use in certain 

1 " Vulnera, corda saxea vulnerantia, et mentes congelatas inflam- 
mantia." Stim. div. am. p. I, c. I. 

Hints to the C ate c hist. 357 

circumstances. For example, when a person receives an 
injury or insult from another, he should be taught to 
say to his enemy, " God make you a saint; God give 
you light !" But if this does not allay the other s rage, 
let him be ready to hold his tongue. When any misfor 
tune happens, let him say, "God s will be done! O 
Lord, I suffer this willingly for my sins." These, and 
such practical lessons, should be frequently repeated 
that they may be fixed in the minds of the people, who 
will certainly forget all the Latin quotations and the 
curious erudition of the instructor, and will only re 
member what they are taught to practise. 

All these hints will appear trifling to your pedants, 
but they will be really very useful for the soul. 

Instructions for the people on tljc en orommattoments 
an& on tlje Sacraments. 

i. Original Sin. 

To fulfil his duties, it is, first of all, necessary for man 
to know what is his last end, in which he may find his 
perfect happiness. The last end of man is to love and 
serve God in this life, and to enjoy him for eternity in 
the next. Thus, God has placed us in this world not to 
acquire riches, honors, or pleasures, but to obey his 
commands, and^ by obedience to them, to gain the eter 
nal beatitude of paradise. 

For this end, the Lord created Adam, who was the 
first man, and gave him Eve for his wife, that from them 
mankind might be propagated. He created them in his 
grace, and placed them in the terrestrial paradise, with 
the promise that they should be thence transferred to 
heaven to enjoy complete and eternal felicity. During 
their sojourn on this earth he gave them for their food 
all the fruits of that garden of delights; but, to try their 
obedience, he forbade them to eat the fruit of only one 
tree, which he pointed out to them. But Adam and Eve 
disobeyed God, and would eat the forbidden fruit, and 
for this sin they were deprived of divine grace, were in 
stantly banished from paradise, and, as rebels to the 
divine Majesty, were, with all their posterity, condemned 
to temporal and eternal death. Thus was heaven shut 
against them and all their descendants. 

This is the original sin in which, as children of a re- 

360 Instructions for the People. 

bellious father, we are all born children of wrath and 
enemies of God. When a vassal rebels against his sov 
ereign, all the descendants of the rebel become hateful 
to the prince, and are banished from the kingdom. 
Thus original sin, by the disobedience of Adam, de 
prives us of the grace of God. 

According to the doctrine of the Church, the. Blessed 
Virgin Mary had the privilege of being exempt from 
original guilt. It is certain that she was also free from 
all actual sin. Such is the doctrine of the Church, as 
the Council of Trent has declared: " If any one saith, 
that a man once justified .... is able, during his 
whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial, 
except by a special privilege from God, as the Church 
holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin, let him be anath 
ema." 1 [In the Bull " Ineffabilis Deus" published by 
Pius IX., in the year 1854, it was solemnly defined that 
the Blessed Virgin was, from the first moment of her 
conception, preserved from all stain of original sin.] 
But, if she contracted no guilt from which she required 
to be redeemed, must it be said that she was not re 
deemed by Jesus Christ as well as all the other children 
of Adam? No; she was redeemed, but redeemed in a 
more excellent manner. Others are redeemed after 
having incurred original guilt; Mary was redeemed by 
being preserved from it. And this privilege was justly 
given to her alone that blessed woman whom God had 
predestined to be his own Mother. 

But all the rest are born with the infection of the sin 
of Adam, in punishment of which we have our under 
standing darkened to the knowledge of eternal truth 
and our will inclined to evil. But by the merits of 

1 " Si quis hominem semel justificatum dixerit . . . posse in tota 
vita peccata omnia, etiam venialia, vitare, nisi ex special! Dei privi- 
legio, quemadmodum de Beata Virgine tenet Ecclesia; anathema sit." 
Sess. vi. can. xxiii. 

Practical Introduction. 36 1 

Jesus Christ at our baptism we obtain the divine grace 
and the remedy for all our misery. We thus become the 
adopted sons of God and heirs of paradise, provided we 
preserve till death the grace given to us in baptism. 
But if we lose it by mortal sin we shall be condemned 
to hell, and can obtain pardon only by the sacrament of 

2. Actual Sins. 

With regard to the sins that we actually commit, we 
must distinguish mortal from venial sin. 

I. To understand the nature of mortal sin, it is neces 
sary to know that, as the soul gives life to the body, so 
the grace of God gives life to the soul. Hence, as the 
body without the soul is dead, and fit only for the grave, 
so by sin the soul dies to the grace of God and is 
doomed to be buried in hell. Hence grievous sin is 
called mortal because it kills the soul. The soul that 
sinneth, the same shall die} I said that the soul is doomed 
to hell. But what is this hell ? It is a place to which 
all who die in sin go to suffer eternal torments. These 
shall go into everlasting punishment? But what pains shall 
they suffer in hell? Every conceivable pain: there the 
damned are immersed in a sea of fire, tortured by all 
sorts of torments, overwhelmed with despair, and aban 
doned by all for all eternity. 

But is it reasonable that a soul should suffer an eterr 
nity of torments for a single mortal sin ? He who 
speaks thus shows that he does not understand what a 
mortal sin is. Mortal sin is to turn your back upon 
God. Thus it is defined by St. Thomas 3 and St. Augus 
tine 4 a turningaway from the unchangeable good. Hence 

" Anima quae peccaverit, ipsa morietur." Ezcch. xviii. 20. 
" Ibunt hi in supplicium aeternum." Matt xxv. 46. 

3 L. 2, q. 87, a. 4. 

4 De Divers. Qucest. 1. I, q. 2, n. 18. 

362 Instructions for the People. 

God says to the sinner, Thou hast forsaken Me, thou hasi 
gone backward. 1 Mortal sin is an insult offered to God 
by sinners. / have brought iip children and exalted them, 
but they have despised Me? It is a dishonor done to the 
divine Majesty. By the transgression of the law thou dis- 
honorest God. " It is to say to God, I will not obey Thee. 
Thou hast broken My yoke, . . . and thou saidst, I will not 
serve." This is the essence of mortal sin; and for it one 
hell is not enough: a hundred or a thousand hells would 
not be sufficient to punish a single mortal sin. If a per 
son unjustly injures a peasant he deserves to be pun 
ished: if he does it to a nobleman, a prince, or an em 
peror, he merits far greater chastisement. But what are 
all the kings of the earth and even all the saints of heaven 
in comparison with God ? They are as nothing. All 
nations are before him as if they had no being at all? Now, 
I ask, what chastisement is due to an insult offered to 
God, and to a God who has died for the love of us ? 

However, it must be observed that for mortal sin 
three things are required: full advertence, perfect con 
sent, and grievous matter. If any of these three be 
wanting, the sin is not mortal: it can be only venial, or 
perhaps no sin at all. 

II. Venial sin does not kill, but it wounds the soul. It 
is not a grievous offence, but still it is an offence against 
God. It is not so great an evil as mortal sin; but it is 
a greater evil than all the other evils that can happen 
to creatures. A lie, a venial curse, is a greater evil than 
if all men, all the saints, and all the angels were to be 
sent to hell. 

1 "Tu reliquisti me, dicit Dominus; retrorsum abiisti." Jer. xv. 6. 

2 " Filios enutrivi et exaltavi, ipsi autem spreverunt me. Is. \. 2. 
8 " Per pnEvaricationem legis, Deum inhonoras." Rom. ii. 23. 

4 " Confregisti jugum meum, rupisti vincula mea, et dixisti: Non 
serviam." Jcr. ii. 20. 

5 " Omnes gentes, quasi non sint, sic sunt coram eo." Is. xl. 17. 

Practical Introduction. 363 

Some venial sins are deliberate, others are indelib- 

1. Indeliberate venial sins, or sins committed without 
full advertence or perfect consent, are less culpable; all 
men fall into such sins. The Blessed Virgin only had 
the privilege of being exempt from them. 

2. Deliberate venial sins, which are committed "with 
full advertence and consent, are more criminal, particu 
larly when there is an affection for them; such as cer 
tain feelings of hatred, of ambition, certain rooted at 
tachments, and the like. "Who," says St. Basil, "shall 
dare to call any sin light?" 1 It is enough to under 
stand that it offends God, to make us avoid it more than 
any other evil. The deformity of a venial sin was once 
shown to St. Catharine of Genoa; she afterwards felt 
surprised that she did not die of horror at the sight of 
it. And let him who thinks little of venial sin remem 
ber, that if he does not amend, he will be on the point 
of falling into some mortal sin. The more venial sins 
the soul commits, the weaker she becomes, the greater 
the power which the devil acquires over her, and the 
fewer the helps that God bestows upon her. He that 
contemneth small things shall fall by little and little? 

3. Conclusion. 

Let us, then, be careful to avoid sin, which alone can 
make us unhappy in this life and in the next; and 
let us continually thank the goodness of God for not 
having already sent us to hell for our sins. Let us 
henceforth attend to the salvation of our souls, and let 
us consider how little is all that we do for the salvation 
of our souls all that we do for eternal life. 

St. Augustine 3 relates that when the Emperor Gratian 

1 " Quis peccatum ullum leve audeat appellare ?" Keg. brcv. int. 4. 
"Qui spernit modica, paulatim decidet." Ecclus. xix. i. 
;i Con/. 1. 8, c. 6. 

364 Instructions for the People. 

was in the city of Treves, two of his courtiers went one 
day to visit a monastery of certain good religious, which 
was outside the city. In that holy solitude they began 
to read the life of St. Antony, which lay on the table of 
one of the religious. One of them, enlightened by God, 
said to the other: " My friend, after all the anxieties 
and labors of the world which we endure, what can we 
obtain ? While w r e remain at court, the most we can 
hope for is to gain the emperor s favor. This is the 
greatest happiness that we can expect, and if we gain 
it, how long will this happiness last ? But if I wish for 
the friendship of God, I can have it this moment." 
After this he went on reading, and by God s illumina 
tion saw more and more clearly the vanity of the world, 
and resolutely said to his companion: " Now, I will for 
sake all things and save my soul. I this moment resolve 
to remain in this monastery to think only of God. If you 
will not follow my example, at least, I beseech you, do 
not oppose my design." His companion said that he 
was resolved to follow his example. Two young women 
also, who had been betrothed to them, when they heard 
of their change, left the world and consecrated their 
virginity to God. 

But, to make sure of our eternal salvation, it is not 
enough to begin: it is necessary to persevere; and in 
order to persevere, it is necessary to be humble, always 
distrusting our own strength, confiding only in God, 
and continually asking his help to persevere. Woe to 
that man who trusts in himself and glories in his own 

Palladius relates that a certain solitary, in a desert, 
spent day and night in prayer, and led a most austere life, 
and therefore was honored by many. The unhappy man 
began to think well of himself, and, on account of his vir 
tues, regarded himself sure of perseverance and salva- 

1 Hist, latis, c. 44. 

Practical Introduction. 365 

tion. But afterwards, when the devil appeared to him 
in the form of a woman, and tempted him to sin, the 
unhappy man was unable to resist the temptation, and 
fell. Immediately after his fall, the devil burst into 
loud laughter and disappeared. The solitary afterwards 
left the desert, returned to the world, and fell into all 
kinds of vice; thus he became a warning to show how 
dangerous it is to trust in your own strength. 

Still more frightful was the end of the celebrated 
Brother Justin, who, after refusing offices of great dig 
nity that were offered to him by the King of Hungary, 
became a religious of the Order of St. Francis, and made 
such progress in the spiritual life, that he had frequent 
ecstasies. One day, during dinner, in the convent of Ara 
Cceli, he was, in the presence of the entire Community, 
raised into the air, and borne aloft to venerate an image 
of the Blessed Virgin, which was hanging on the wall. 
On account of this prodigy, Eugene IV. sent for him, 
embraced him and made him sit down, and had a long 
conversation with him. By this act of respect on the 
part of the Pope the unhappy man war so puffed up, 
that St. John Capistran said to him when he saw him, 
" Brother Justin, you went out an angel, and you have 
come back a devil." He afterwards fell into pride and 
many other vices, and at last he killed a brother in re 
ligion. He then fled into the kingdom of Naples, where 
he committed many other crimes, and died in prison an 
apostate monk. 

Instructions on tl)c (jTomtnanbtnents. 



" Thou shall have no other God before me." J 

THIS first commandment obliges us to give to God 
due worship and honor. What this God is, it is impos 
sible to understand. But let it be enough for us to 
know that his principal attributes are as follows : 

1. God is independent. All things depend on God, but 
he depends on no one ; and, therefore, he possesses all 
perfections, in regard to which no one can set any 
bounds to him. 

2. God is Almighty; for he can do whatever he wishes; 
by one act of his will he created the world. He first 
created the heavens, and the angels, who are pure 
spirits, and he created them in the state of grace. But 
Lucifer, when he was commanded to adore the Son of 
God, who was to be made man, through pride refused 
to obey, and induced a third part of the angels to join 
with him in his rebellion against God. These rebellious 
angels were instantly banished from heaven by the 
Archangel Michael, and condemned to hell. They are 
the devils, who tempt us to sin, in order to make us 

1 " Non habebis deos alienos coram me." ExoJ. xx. 3. 


CHAP, i.i The First Commandment. 367 

companions of their torments. Miserable should we be, 
if we had not God to assist us. We should not have 
strength to resist their temptations. But God requires, 
as the condition of giving us this assistance, that in our 
temptations we instantly turn to him, and ask his assist 
ance; if we act otherwise, we shall be defeated by our 
enemies. The angels who remained faithful were im 
mediately admitted into the enjoyment of the glory of 
paradise; and from among these angels, the Lord has 
appointed those who were to be our guardians: He hath 
given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 1 
Let us every day give thanks to our angel guardian, and 
entreat him to assist us always, and never abandon us. 
Next the Lord created the earth and all those things 
that we see. He then made man, that is, Adam and 
Eve, as we have already said. So God is the Lord of 
all things, for he created all things; and as he created 
all things by one act of his will, so by another act he 
can, if he pleases, destroy all things. This is what is 
meant by God s omnipotence. 

3. God is also most wise. He governs all things 
created without labor or inconvenience. He sees and 
has before him all things, past and future, and knows 
all our thoughts better than they are known to our 

4 God is eternal; he always has been, and always will 
be, and nothing in him ever had a beginning, or shall 
have an end. 

5. God is immense; he is in heaven, on earth, and in 
all places. 

6. God is holy in all his works, and it is impossible for 
him to be in any way wicked. 

7. God is just ; he leaves no sinful act unpunished, 
and no good act without reward 

1 " Angelis suis mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis." 
Ps xc. n. 

368 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

8. God is all mercy to penitent sinners, and all love to 
the souls that love him. In a word, God is infinite 
goodness ; so that he cannot be better nor more perfect 
than he is. 

This God, our Creator and Preserver, we are bound 
to love and honor, principally by acts of the three theo 
logical virtues of faith, hope, and charity. "God," said 
St. Augustine, " is to be worshipped with faith, hope, 
and charity." 1 


i. WHAT is FAITH? 

Faith is a virtue, or a gift which God infuses into our 
souls in baptism; a gift by which we believe the truths 
which God himself has revealed to the holy Church, and 
which she proposes to our belief. 


By the Church is meant the congregation of all who 
are baptized (for persons not baptized are out of the 
Church), and profess the true faith under a visible head, 
that is, the Sovereign Pontiff. I say the true faith, to 
exclude heretics, who, though baptized, are separated 
from the Church ; I say under a visible head, to exclude 
schismatics, who do not obey the Pope, and, on that ac 
count, easily pass from schism to heresy. St. Cyprian 
well says : " Heresies and schisms have no other origin 
than this the refusal to obey the priest of God and the 
notion that there can be more than one priest at one 
time presiding over the Church, and more than one 
judge at a time filling the office of Vicar of Christ." 2 

1 " Deus fide, spe, et charitate, colendus." Enchir. c. 3. 
"Neque enim aliunde haereses oborUe sunt, aut nata schismata, 
quam inde quod Sacerdoti Dei non obtempcratur, nee unus in Ecclcsia 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 369 

We have all revealed truths in the sacred Scriptures, 
and in the traditions gradually communicated by God 
to his servants. But how should we be able to ascertain 
what are the true traditions and the true Scriptures, and 
what is their true meaning, if we had not the Church to 
teach us? This Church Jesus Christ established as the 
pillar and ground of the truth. 1 To this Church our 
Saviour himself has promised that she shall never be 
conquered by her enemies. The gates of hell shall not 
prevail against her? The gates of hell are the heresies 
and heresiarchs that have caused so many miserable, 
deluded souls to wander from the right way. This 
Church it is that teaches us, through her ministers, the 
truths that we are to believe. Thus, St. Augustine says: 
"I would not believe the Gospel, were I not moved by 
the authority of the Church." 3 


The cause or motive, then, which imposes on me the 
obligation to believe the truths of faith is, because God, 
the infallible Truth, has revealed them, and because the 
Church proposes them to my belief. So we should make 
out a rule of faith in this way: " My God, because Thou, 
who art the infallible truth, hast revealed to the Church 
the truths of faith, I believe all the Church proposes to 
my belief." * 

ad tempus Sacerdos et ad tempus Judex vice Christi cogitatur. " Epist. 
ad Cornel. 

1 " Ecclesia Dei vivi, columna et firmamentum veritatis." i Tim. 
iii. 15. 

2 " Portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus earn." Matt. xvi. 18. 

3 " Ego Evangelio non crederem, nisi me Ecclesise Catholicae com- 
moveret auctoritas." Cont. Epist. Fttnd. c. 5. 

* We shall find farther o*n, IV., a formula which explicitly contains 
all the truths that one must believe by necessity of means and of pre 
cept. S^e, moreover, page 140. 

3 7 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

This is the reason or motive which makes me believe 
the truths of revelation. Let us now see what are those 
truths which we are obliged to believe. 


There are four principal articles of faith: 

1. There is an ever-present God. 

2. He is a rewarder who rewards with the eternal 
glory of paradise all who observe his law, and punishes 
all who transgress it with the everlasting torments of 

3. In God there are three Persons, the Father, the 
Son, and the Holy Ghost ; and these Persons, though 
distinct from one another, are but one God, because 
they are one essence and one divinity. Hence, as the 
Father is eternal, omnipotent, infinite, so are the Son 
and the Holy Ghost equally eternal, omnipotent, and 
infinite. The Son is begotten of the intelligence of the 
Father. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the will of the 
Father and the Son, by the love with which they love 
each other. 

4. The Incarnation of the Eternal Word that is, of 
the second Person the Son, who, by the operation of 
the Holy Ghost, was made man in the womb of the 
Virgin Mary for the person of the Word assumed the 
nature of man, so that the two natures, the divine and 
the human, were united in the person of Jesus Christ, 
who suffered and died for our salvation. But what 
necessity was there that Jesus Christ should suffer for 
our redemption? Man had sinned; and to obtain par 
don it was necessary that man should make a full satis 
faction to God for the sins that had been committed. 
But how could man make such satisfaction to the infinite 
majesty of God ? What, then, did God do ? The Father 
sent the Son to take upon himself our nature; and the 
Son, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, atoned to the 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 371 

divine justice in behalf of man. Such is the debt and 
the love that we owe to Jesus Christ. Denis the Car 
thusian tells us of a young man who, at Mass, did not 
kneel down at the words of the Creed, Et homo factus 
est ; upon which a devil with a club appeared to him, 
and said: "Thou ungrateful wretch, dost thou not 
thank the God who was made flesh for thee ? If he 
had done for us what he has done for thee, we should 
be always prostrate in thankful adoration. And thou 
dost not even make a sign of thankfulness." Then he 
gave him a terrible blow with his club, and left him half 




Moreover, we must know that some articles are to be 
believed by necessity of means, without which we can 
not obtain salvation, others by necessity of precept. 
The necessity of means implies that if we do not believe 
certain articles of faith, we cannot be saved. The neces 
sity by precept signifies that we must believe certain other 
articles ; but if it happens that we are ignorant of them 
by an invincible ignorance, we are excused from sin and 
may be saved. 

I. To know and believe the first two articles already 
laid down, namely, that there is a God, and that he is a 
just rewarder of virtue and punisher of vice, is certainly 
necessary as a means of salvation, according to the words 
of the Apostle, For he that cometh to God must believe that 
He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him. 1 Some 
authors hold that the belief of the other two articles 
the Trinity of Persons, and the Incarnation of the Word 
is necessary by necessity of precept, but not necessary 

1 "Credere enim oportet, accedentem ad Deum, quia est, et inqui- 
rentibus se remunerator sit." Heb. xi. 6. 

Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

as a means without which salvation is impossible ; so 
that a person iriculpably ignorant of them may be saved. 
At any rate it is certain, as Innocent XL declared, 1 when 
condemning a contrary proposition, that he who is 
ignorant of the two mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity, 
and of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, cannot receive 

II. We are obliged only by necessity of precept, which, 
however, binds under grievous sin, to know and believe 
the other articles of the Creed, at least the principal 
articles among them such as, that God has created 
heaven and earth ; that he preserves and governs the 
universe; that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the true Mother 
of God, and is ever a Virgin; that on the third day after 
his death Jesus Christ rose from the dead by his own 
power; that he ascended into heaven, and there sits on 
the right hand of his Eternal Father. By this it is meant 
that Jesus Christ, even as man, sits at the right hand of 
God that is, that he permanently possesses a glory equal 
to that of the Father, as Bellarmine explains in his cate 
chism. 2 I said even as man. For as God, Jesus Christ is, in 
all things, equal to the Father; but, as man, he is inferior 
to the Father, but, because our Saviour is at the same 
time both God and man, and only one person, therefore 
the humanity of Jesus Christ in heaven has a glory and 
majesty equal to that of the Father, not by its own dig 
nity, but because it is united with the person of the Son 
of God. When a king sits on his throne, the regal 
purple that he wears is there upon the throne with him; 
thus the humanity of Christ by itself is not equal to 
God, but because it is united with a divine Person, it is 
seated on the same throne with God, with a glory equal 
to that of God. 

We are also bound to know and believe that, on the 
last day of the world, all men shall rise, and shall be 

1 Pr P- 6 4- 2 Doctr. Christ, c. 3, a. 6. 

CHAP, i.] The Fir si Commandment. 373 

judged by Jesus Christ; we must also believe that the 
Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church. Hence 
they who are out of our Church, or separated from it, 
cannot be saved, except infants who die after baptism. 
We are obliged to believe the communion of saints 
that is, that each of the faithful in the state of grace 
partakes of the merits of all the saints, living and dead. 
We must also believe in the remission of sins that is, 
that our sins are remitted in the sacrament of penance, 
provided we are sincerely penitent for them. Lastly, 
we must believe in eternal life that is, that he who is 
saved by dying in a state of grace will go to heaven, 
where he will enjoy God for all eternity ; and, on the 
other hand, that he who dies in sin will be sent to hell, 
where he will be tormented for all eternity. 

Moreover, every Christian is obliged to know the pre 
cepts of the Decalogue, and those of the Church, and 
the principal obligations of his own state of life, whether 
he be an ecclesiastic or secular, married or single, lawyer 
or doctor, etc. 

Every one is bound also to know and believe the seven 
sacraments, and their effects, particularly the sacraments 
of Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, and Eucharist, and 
the other sacraments when he is about to receive them. 
All are obliged to know the " Our Father." The " Our 
Father," or Lord s Prayer, is a prayer that Jesus Christ 
himself composed, and left to us, that we may know in 
what manner to ask the graces that are most necessary 
for our salvation. St. Hugh, Bishop of Grenoble, on 
one occasion, when he was ill, repeated the " Our Father" 
three hundred times in one night. His chamberlain ad 
vised him not to repeat it so often, for fear of increasing 
his illness. The saint answered, that the oftener he said 
it, the faster he recovered. It is particularly useful to 
repeat over and over again the words, "Thy will be 
done on earth as it is in heaven;" for the greatest grace 

374 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

that God can bestow upon us is to make us do his holy 
will here on earth. It is also very profitable to repeat 
the petition, "and lead us not into temptation," begging 
the Lorjd to deliver us from the temptations in which he 
foresees that we should fall. 

Moreover, every one should learn the "Hail Mary," in 
order to know how to recommend ourselves to the Mother 
of God, through whom, as St. Bernard says, we receive 
all the graces God gives us. 

All should likewise know that there exists a purgatory, 
a place for expiating sins after death, where the faithful 
suffer those temporal punishments for their sins that 
they did not fully undergo in this life. We should, 
therefore, be mindful to pray and offer our suffrages for 
the holy souls in purgatory, whom we are, as far as we 
can, bound to relieve in their sufferings; indeed, the 
least pain of purgatory is greater than all the pains of 
this life put together ; for the pains of these spouses of 
Christ are most intense, and these poor souls are unable 
to assist themselves. If, on this earth, our neighbor were 
suffering great pain, and we could relieve him without 
any great inconvenience, should we not be obliged to 
do so? We are equally bound to render assistance to 
these holy souls, at least by our prayers. 

We should also know that it is very useful to us to 
obtain the intercession of the saints, and particularly of 
the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is of faith, as the Coun 
cil of Trent 1 has declared against the impious Calvin, 
who said it was w r rong to ask the assistance of the saints. 
Nay, according to the doctrine of St. Thomas we mortals 
are absolutely bound to go to the saints, in order to ob 
tain, through their intercession, the divine graces neces 
sary for our salvation ; not because God cannot save us 
without the intercession of the saints, but because the 
order established by God requires that, while we remain 

1 Sess. xxv. De invoc. Sanct. 

CHAP, i.] 77/6 First Commandment. 375 

in this life, we should be converted. The order of the 
divine law requires that we who are absent from the 
Lord, while we remain in our mortal body, should be 
brought back to him by means of the saints to God by 
the prayers of the saints. 1 This doctrine is also held by 
other theologians. 2 We should likewise venerate the 
relics of the saints, the cross, and sacred images. 


Before I proceed farther, I will answer an objection 
which may be made. A man may say, the truth of our 
faith is clear and evident: but how can it be clear when 
there are so many mysteries, such as the Trinity, the 
Incarnation of the Word, and the Eucharist, which are 
obscure and incomprehensible? 

I answer, the mysteries of the faith are obscure, but 
not its truth. The truth of our faith, that is, that our 
faith is true, is evident by the plainest and most irref 
ragable arguments. The mysteries of faith are obscure 
to us, and God himself wishes them to be obscure: first, 
because he wishes to be honored by our believing, though 
we cannot comprehend all the truths that he has revealed; 
and, secondly, because we acquire merit by believing what 
we do not see. What merit should a man have for believ 
ing something because he sees and comprehends it ? St. 
Gregory says that faith has no merit if human reason 
furnishes a proof for it. 3 But if we are unable to com 
prehend the material things of this world for who is 
there that comprehends how the magnet attracts iron ? 

1 " Hoc divinae legis ordo requirit, ut nos, qui manentes in corpora 
peregrinamur a Domino, in eum per Sanctos medios reducamur." In 
4. Sent. d. 45, q. 3, a. 2. 

2 Contin. de Tournely. De Rdig. p. 2, c. 2, a. 5, q. I. Syhitis, In 
2. 2, q. 83, a. 4, concl. 2. 

3 Fides non habet meritum, cui humana ratio prsebet experimen- 
tum." In Evang. horn. 26. 

3 7 6 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

how a single grain of corn, sown in the earth, produces 
a thousand other grains ? Who comprehends the action 
of the moon, or that of lightning ? what wonder is there 
if we cannot comprehend the mysteries of God? 

The objects, then., of our faith are obscure ; but the 
truth of our faith is established by so many evident 
proofs, that he who does not embrace it can only be 
called a fool. These proofs are numerous. We shall 
mention only three of them : 

i. The first is taken from the prophecies written in the 
Holy Bible so many ages before the event, and after 
wards exactly fulfilled. Long before it happened, the 
death of our Redeemer was foretold by several prophets 
David, Daniel, Aggeus, and Malachy foretold the time 
and circumstances of his death. It was foretold that in 
punishment of the murder of Jesus Christ by the Jews, 
their temple should be destroyed, and they should be 
driven from their country ; that they should remain 
blinded in their sin, and should be scattered over the 
whole earth. We know that all this has taken place. 
It was also foretold that, after the death of the Messias, 
the world should be converted from idolatry to the wor 
ship of the true God and this was done by the holy 
apostles, who, unaided, by learning, nobility, riches, or 
the protection of the great, and even in spite of the op 
position of the potentates of the earth, recalled the world 
to the worship of the true God, inducing men to forsake 
their gods and their inveterate habits of vice, in order to 
embrace a faith that taught them to believe so many 
mysteries which they could not comprehend, and im 
posed on them so many precepts hard to be observed, 
because they are so contrary to our bad passions ; such 
as to love our enemies, to abstain from pleasures, to 
bear insults, and to place all our affections, not on the 
goods that we see, but on the goods of a future life that 
we do not see. 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 377 

2. We have further evident proofs of our faith in the 
multitude of miracles wrought by Jesus Christ, by the 
apostles and other saints, in the presence of the very 
enemies of the faith, who, when they could not deny the 
prodigies, said that they were performed by diabolical 
agency. But true miracles that surpass the power of 
nature, such as the raising of the dead to life, giving 
sight to the blind, and the like, cannot be wrought by 
devils; they have no power to work such miracles. God 
cannot permit a miracle except in confirmation of the 
true faith ; should he permit a miracle in confirmation 
of error, he himself would deceive us. Therefore, the 
true miracles that we witness in the Catholic Church (it 
is sufficient to mention the miracle of St. Januarius*) 
are infallible proofs of the truth of our faith. 

3. The constancy of the martyrs is again a very strong 
argument in favor of our faith. In the first ages of the 
Church, in the reign of the tyrants, there were so many 
millions of persons, and among them so many tender 
virgins and children, who, rather than deny the faith of 
Jesus Christ, endured with joy torments and death. 
Sulpitius Severus writes that, in the time of Diocletian, 
the martyrs presented themselves to their judges with a 
desire of martyrdom that surpassed the avidity with 
which men of the world pursue the riches and honors of 
the earth. 

The martyrdom of St. Mauritius, and the whole Theban 
legion, is one famous in history. The Emperor Maxi- 
mian commanded all his soldiers to assist at an impious 

1 Hist. \. 2, n. 32. 

* The cathedral at Naples possesses the relics of this glorious martyr, 
with his blood collected during his execution and preserved in two vials. 
Every time that his head is brought in sight of his blood enclosed in 
the two vials, this blood, which is congealed and solid, liquefies and 
boils as living blood in the presence of all the spectators. (Victories of 
the Martyrs, Chap. LXV., page- 284.) Ki>. 

378 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

sacrifice which he was going to offer to his false deities. 
St. Mauritius and his soldiers, because they were all 
Christians, refused to obey the order of the emperor. 
Having heard of their refusal, Maximian, to punish their 
disobedience, ordered them to be decimated that is, 
the head of every tenth man in the legion to be cut off. 
Each of them desired to die; and the soldiers who were 
left alive envied the happiness of those who were put to 
death for Jesus Christ. As soon as this was made know r n 
to Maximian, he ordered them to be decimated a second 
time; but this only increased their desire of martyrdom. 
In the end the tyrant ordered them all to be beheaded ; 
and all, with joy in their faces, laid down their arms, 
and, like so many meek lambs, gladly and without re 
sistance submitted to death. 

Prudentius relates that a child seven years old, whose 
name is unrecorded, was tempted by Asclepiades to deny 
the faith of Christ ; but when the boy refused, saying 
that he had been taught this faith by his mother, the 
tyrant sent for her, and in her presence caused the child 
to be scourged till his whole body became one wound. 
All the spectators shed tears of pity; but the mother 
exulted with joy at the sight of the fortitude of her son. 
Before death, the child, being thirsty, asked his mother 
for a little water. " Son," said the mother, " have pa 
tience a little while; you shall soon be satiated in heaven 
with every delight." The prefect, enraged at the con 
stancy of the mother and the son, commanded his head 
to be cut off instantly. After the execution of the order, 
the mother took the dead child in her arms, and kissed 
him with feelings of the most joyful triumph because he 
had laid down his life for Jesus Christ. 

1 PeristepJi. hymn. 10. 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 379 


From all that we have said, we ought to gather that 
we are bound to return God the most heart-felt thanks 
for having given us the gift of the true faith. How 
great is the number of infidels, heretics, and schismatics! 
Catholics do not amount to a tenth part of the human 
race. God has placed us in this number ; by his provi 
dence we were born in the bosom of the true Church. 
Few thank him for this great benefit. Let us at least 
be careful to thank him for it every day. 



i. WHAT is HOPE? 

Hope is a virtue which God infuses into our souls, 
by which we expect from the divine mercy, with certain 
confidence, eternal beatitude through the merits of 
Jesus Christ, and also by means of the good works that 
we shall perform with God s assistance. 


Hence the primary object of Christian hope is eternal 
life that is, God himself, whom we hope to enjoy; the 
secondary objects are the means to obtain everlasting 
happiness, which are God s grace, and our good works 
which we shall perform with the assistance of grace. 


The motive or formal object of hope is the omnipo 
tence of God, by which he is able to .save us; his mercy, 
by which he wishes to save us; and the fidelity of God 
to his promise to bring us to glory through the merits 
of Jesus Christ, provided we pray to him for salvation 

380 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

through the merits of Jesus Christ. Behold the promise: 
Amen, amen, I say to you, if ye ask the Father anything in 
My name, He will give it you} Without this promise we 
should have no certain grounds to hope for our salva 
tion, and for God s grace to obtain it. 


But if God is our hope, for what reason does the holy 
Church make us call the Blessed Virgin Mary our hope: 
Spes nostra salve? 

We must make a distinction : God, as the author of 
grace and of every good, is our principal hope ; and 
Mary is our hope, because she prays for us to Jesus 
Christ. Hence, St. Bonaventure thus addresses her: 
" Through thee, O first finder of grace, Mother of salva 
tion, we have access to the Son, that, through thee, he 
may receive us, who through thee was given to us." 2 
He meant to say, that as we have access to the Father 
only through Jesus Christ, who is the mediator of jus 
tice, so we have access to the Son only through Mary, 
who is a mediatrix of grace, and by her prayers obtains 
for us and dispenses those graces that Christ merited 
and provided for us. Hence, St. Bonaventure called 
Mary the entire ground of his hope. 3 So also the holy 
Church teaches us to call her "our life, our sweetness, 
and our hope." 4 


How is the precept of hope violated ? It is violated 

i. By despair of the divine mercy. Thus Cain sinned 

"Amen, amen, dico vobis : Si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine 
meo, dabit vobis." John, xvi. 23. 

"Per te accessum habemus ad Filium, O inventrix gratia, Mater 
salutis ! ut per te nos suscipiat, qui per te datus est nobis." In Adv. 
Dom. s. 2. 

" Haec est tota ratio spei niece." De Aquczd. 
4 " Vita, Dulcedo, et Spes nostra." 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 381 

when, after having killed his brother Abel, he said: My 
iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon. 1 As if 
God, who has said: Turn ye to Me . . . and I will turn to 
you? could not pardon him even though he should re 
pent of his sin. 

2. The precept of hope is violated by presumption, or 
thinking to be saved either without God s assistance, or 
without renouncing sin. 

If we wish, therefore, to obtain holy perseverance, we 
must always distrust ourselves, and place our confidence 
in God. He who trusts in his own strength to conquer 
temptations will receive no aid from God, and will be 
defeated by his enemies. They who wish to overcome 
temptations must have recourse immediately, and with 
confidence, to God. None of them, said David, that trust 
in Him shall offend? And God himself says: Because he 
hoped in Me, I will deliver him. 4 


This, therefore, is the way of making an act of hope : 
My God, trusting in Thy promises, through the merits 
of Jesus Christ, because Thou art almighty, merciful, 
and faithful, T hope to receive from Thee the glory of 
paradise hereafter, and the means necessary to obtain it 

Hope is necessary for the attainment of eternal life ; 
but hope alone is not sufficient for salvation : in order 
to gain everlasting glory, good works are also necessary. 
The saints have made all conceivable sacrifices to gain 

" Major est iniquitas mea, quam ut veniam merear." Gen. iv. 13. 
" Convertimini ad me, . . . et convertar ad vos. " Zach.i.^. 
" Non delinquant omnes qui sperant in eo." Ps. xxxiii. 23. 
" Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum." Ps. xc. 14. 

* This act is reproduced afterwards, IV., with a further explanation. 

382 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

St. John Damascene, in his life of Josaphat, the monk, 
relates that this young man was the son of a king, and 
heir to the throne, but, enlightened by a celestial ad 
monition, in order to secure his salvation, he despised 
all the riches and delights of the earth, and fled from the 
royal palace, and retired into a desert, where he spent all 
the remaining days of his life in prayer and penitential 
austerities. At his death, angels were seen carrying his 
blessed soul to heaven. 

Listen to what a woman did in order to gain heaven. 
Socrates 1 relates that when the Arian Emperor Valens 
had commanded the prefect of the city to put to death 
all the Catholics who should assemble at a certain place 
in order to perform their devotions, the prefect, on his 
way to execute the barbarous order, met a young woman 
carrying an infant in her arms, and walking very quickly. 
Being asked where she was going, she replied : " I am 
going to the place where the other Catholics assemble." 
" But do you not know," said the prefect, " that they are 
all to be put to death?" "It is for that very reaton," 
rejoined the woman, "that I am hastening thither with 
this my only child, that we may have the happiness of 
dying for Jesus Christ, and of going to enjoy him in 
heaven." As soon as the prefect heard this, he returned 
to the emperor, and related the fact. Confounded by 
the generous resolution of the woman, the emperor 
ordered her to be left in peace. 




Charity is a virtue which God infuses into the soul, 
by which we love God above all things, because he is 
infinite goodness, and by which we love our neighbors 
as ourselves, because God commands us to love them. 
1 Hist. Eccl. 1. 4, c. 13. 

CHAP. LI The First Commandment. 383 


The motive of loving God is his infinite goodness, for 
which he deserves to be loved for himself alone, though 
there were no reward for loving him, nor any chastise 
ment for not loving him. 

While St. Louis, King of France, was once travelling, 
he encountered a woman on the road with a lighted torch 
in one hand, and a vessel filled with water in the other. 
When she was asked why she carried them she answered: 
"I should like to set fire to heaven with my torch, and 
to extinguish hell-fire with the water, that God might 
be loved, not for the hope of heaven, nor for the fear of 
the torments of hell, but simply and solely because he 
deserves to be loved." 


Let us now examine when we are bound to make acts 
of faith, hope, and charity. These acts should be made 
from time to time because it is by acts that virtues are 
preserved. We are obliged to make acts of the love of 
God more frequently than acts of faith and hope; for in 
the Holy Scripture God tells us that we ought to medi 
tate constantly on this precept of loving God, sitting in 
our house, walking in our journey, sleeping and rising: 
that we should bind it as a sign on our hands, keep it 
before our eyes, and write it on the entry and doors of 
our house. 1 This passage of Deuteronomy signifies that 
we should continually endeavor to make acts of divine 
love; for he who does not frequently exercise himself in 
loving God can scarcely observe his law. St. Teresa 
used to say that acts of love are the fuel that keeps the 
holy fire of divine charity burning in our heart. 

Some theologians hold that we are bound to make an 
act of charity at least on every festival; otfiers, once a 

1 Dcut. vi. 6, etc. 

384 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

week. I say that we are obliged to make an act of divine 
love at least once a month. But it is right that every 
Christian should make acts of faith, hope, and charity 
every day.* 


Hence we should, at least once a month, make a formal 
act of the love of our neighbor ; because, without fre 
quent acts of fraternal charity, we shall scarcely practise 
the charity that we owe to our neighbor. 

With regard to the precept of fraternal charity, it is 
necessary to know that Pope Innocent XI. condemned 
the following proposition: "We are not bound to love 
our neighbor by an internal and formal act." 1 This 
proposition has been condemned; because we are bound 
to love all men, not only externally, but also internally 
with the heart, and by formal acts of love. Hence, it is 
a sin to take complacency in the misfortune of a neigh 
bor, or to be grieved at his welfare. This is the mean 
ing of the precept: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself? 

However, it is not sinful to desire or to be glad at the 
temporal misfortunes of an obstinate sinner, in order 
that he may amend his life, and cease to give scandal, 
or to oppress the innocent. It may often happen that, 
without losing charity, we may rejoice at the ruin of an 
enemy, or be sorry for his exaltation, if we believe that 
his ruin will be the salvation of others, and that his 
prosperity will bring oppression and injustice in its 
train. . Such is the doctrine of St. Gregory. 3 But he 

1 " Non tenemur proximum diligere actu interne formali." Prop. 10. 

2 " Diliges proximum tuum sicut te ipsum." Matt. xxii. 39. 

3 " Evenire plerumque solet, ut, non amissa charitate, et inimici nos 
ruina Isetificet, et rursum ejus gloria contristet, cum et ruente eo, quos- 
dam bene erigi credimus, et proficiente illo plerosque injuste opprimi 
formidamus." Mor. 1. 22, c. n. 

* See IV., page 387. 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 385 

who delights in the death or in any other misfortune of 
a neighbor, for any temporal benefit to himself, is guilty 
of sin. But observe, that it is one thing to rejoice in 
the cause which is productive of any advantage, and an 
other to take complacency in the effect produced by 
that cause. It is lawful to rejoice in the effect, but sin 
ful to be glad at the cause. For example: it is lawful 
to rejoice at the acquisition of property which comes to 
us after the death of a parent ; but it is unlawful to re 
joice at his death ; for Innocent XI. has condemned the 
proposition 1 which asserts that it is lawful for a son to 
rejoice at the death of his father, on account of the in 
heritance that shall fall to him. 

We are bound, then, to love our neighbor with an in 
ternal love ; and, therefore, we ought, at least once a 
month, as has been already said, to make an explicit 
act of fraternal charity. We will speak in the sequel of 
the external acts of charity that we owe to our neigh 

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity. 

Let us now see how we are to make all the acts of 
which I have spoken. 


" My God, because Thou who art the infallible truth 
hast revealed to the Church the truths of faith, I believe 
all that the Church proposes to my belief: and I believe 
that Thou art my God, the Creator and Lord of all 
things, who rewardest for all eternity the just in heaven, 
and chastisest forever the wicked in hell. I believe that 
Thou art one in essence, and three in Persons, Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons and only one God. 

1 Prop. 15. 

386 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

I believe that the second Person, that is, the Son, in 
order to save us sinners, was made man, died on a cross, 
and rose again from the dead." 

These are the four principal mysteries. Let us also 
make an act of faith in the other truths, which we are 
bound by a strict precept to believe : 

" I also believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the 
true Mother of God, and is and has always been a vir 
gin. I believe that on the third day after his death, 
Jesus Christ rose again by his own power, and, after 
forty days, ascended into heaven, where he sits at the 
right hand of his Eternal Father, that is, in equal 
majesty and glory with the Father. I believe that on 
the last day, when all men shall rise again from the 
dead, Jesus Christ will come to judge them. I believe 
that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church, 
out of which no one can be saved. I believe in the com 
munion of saints that is, that each of the faithful, w r hile 
he remains in the state of grace, shares in all the merits 
of the just. I believe that God remits sins to penitent 
sinners. I believe in the seven sacraments, and that 
through them the grace of Jesus Christ is communi 
cated to us. I believe in the Ten Commandments of 
the Decalogue. In fine, I believe all that the holy 
Church believes. I give Thee thanks, O my God ! for 
having made me a Christian, and I protest that in this 
holy faith I wish to live and die." 


"My God, trusting in Thy promises, because Thou 
art faithful, powerful, and merciful, I hope, through the 
merits of Jesus Christ, for the glory of heaven and the 
means to obtain it; that is, the pardon of my sins, and 
final perseverance in Thy grace." 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 387 


" My God, because Thou art infinite goodness, worthy 
of infinite love, I love Thee above all things with my 
whole heart, and for the love of Thee I also love my 
neighbor : and I am sorry, and repent with my whole 
soul for having offended Thee, the sovereign good. 
With the aid of Thy grace, which I ask for this mo 
ment and for my whole life, I purpose to die rather than 
evermore offend Thee, and I purpose to receive the holy 
sacraments in life and at death." 

Every Christian is bound to make these acts when he 
comes to the use of reason, and when he is in danger of 
death. During life, we are, as has been already said, 
obliged to make acts of the love of God and our neigh 
bor, at least once a month. At any rate, we are not 
obliged to make these acts as frequently as the acts of 
chanty. However, we are sometimes bound indirectly, 
or by accident, to make these acts, such as when we re 
ceive the sacraments, or when we are tempted grievously 
against faith, or hope, or charity, or chastity; and when, 
by any of the preceding acts, we can free ourselves from 
the temptation. Nevertheless, let us be careful to make 
them always at least once a day: and let us make the 
act of charity more frequently. Because, my dear Chris 
tians, we may be sure that he who does not come to love 
God truly, will scarcely persevere in the grace of God ; 
for, it is very difficult to renounce sin merely through 
fear of chastisement ; and he who abstains from sin 
through such a motive, perseveres but a short time. 
Let us, then, implore of God to give us his holy love, 
and let us endeavor continually to make acts of love, 
which are so pleasing to him. 

388 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 




Let us also attend to the obligation we are under to 
recommend ourselves to God, that he may give us his 
aid to conquer temptations and to persevere in his grace. 
We cannot merit the grace of final perseverance, as the 
Council of Trent * has declared. It is a gift which God 
gives gratuitously to whom he pleases, but he infallibly 
gives it to all who ask it with humility and confidence. 
Theologians commonly teach that to pray, that is, to 
recommend ourselves to God and to ask his graces, is 
necessary for all adults as a means of salvation ; and 
that, for him who neglects prayer, it is impossible to 
persevere in grace and to be saved. And they therefore 
conclude that a Christian who neglects for an entire 
month to recommend himself to God is guilty of mortal 


The Lord desires to give us his graces ; but he will 
have us ask them. For, every one that asketh, receiveth? 
Mark the words every one, which -shows that even sinners, 
who ask God s grace, obtain it: "Every one," says the 
author of the Imperfect Work, " whether he be a just 
man or a sinner." 3 It is true that a sinner is unworthy 
of God s graces, but according to St. Thomas 4 the 
efficacy of prayer is founded, not on the merits of the 
person who prays, but on the mercy of God, and his 

1 Sess. VI., c. xiii. 

2 " Omnis enim qui petit, accipit." Matt. vii. 8. 

3 " Omnis, sive Justus, sive peccator sit." Homil. 18. 

4 2. 2, q. 83,. a. 16^ 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 389 

fidelity to his promises. He has said: Ask and you shall 
receive? These are the words of God, they cannot fail. 
It is necessary to observe that this promise has been 
made only for spiritual, but not for temporal, favors. 
Because he loves us, the Lord often refuses temporal 
blessings such as riches, honors, and bodily health. He 
foresees that they would be injurious to the soul, and 
therefore he withholds them. Therefore, when we ask 
temporal favors, we should pray for them with resigna 
tion, and on condition that they may be profitable to 
our souls, otherwise the Lord will not grant them to us. 
But we ought to ask spiritual graces absolutely and un 

We should pray with confidence, with humility, and 
with perseverance. 

1. With confidence. All things whatsoever you ask when 
ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto 


2. With humility. God resisteth the proud, and giveth 

grace to the humble? 

3. With perseverance. Thousands of graces are neces 
sary for the attainment of salvation. To save our souls, 
we stand in need of a chain of graces, which must come 
from God. And there must be on our part a chain of 
prayers to correspond to this chain of graces. If our 
petitions cease, God s aid will also cease, and we shall 
never be saved. Hence, as we are continually tempted 
to offend God, we must continually pray to him for aid. 
We must always act like beggars with God, always say- 

1 " Petite, et accipietis. "John, xvi. 24. 

2 " Omnia queecumque orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et eveni- 
ent vobis," Mark, xi. 24. 

3 "Deus superbis resistit; humilibus autem dat gratiam." James, 
iv. 6. 


390 Instructions for the People. 

ing: Lord, assist me; Lord, be with me; keep Thy hand 
upon me; give me perseverance, give me the gift of Thy 
love. We must begin to make these petitions as soon as 
we rise in the morning, and continue to repeat them 
during the day, in hearing Mass, in our visits to the 
Most Holy Sacrament, before going to bed at night, and 
particularly when we are tempted, saying: My God, as 
sist me ; Mother of God, help me. In a word, if we 
wish to be saved, it is necessary to have always on our 
tongue a prayer to Jesus Christ and our Mother Mary, 
who obtains from her Son whatsoever she wishes.* 


Charity to our Neighbor, f 

The love of God and the love of our neighbor are but 
two sides of the same thing. This commandment, says St. 
John, we have from God. That he u>/w loveth God, loves 
also his brother. 1 He who loves not his neighbor loves 
not God. However, charity has its proper order. 


We ought to love God above all things, and our neigh 
bor as ourselves. 2 < Sicut te />jw,"_ as ourselves, but not 
more than ourselves. Hence, we are not bound to prefer 
the good of a neighbor to our own unless when the good 
of the neighbor is of an order superior to ours, and when 
he is in extreme necessity. The order of goods is this : 
first, the spiritual life of the soul; then, the temporal 

" Qui diligit Deum, diligat et fratrem suum." i John, iv. 21. 
" Diliges proximum tuum sicut te ipsum. "Matt. xxii. 39. 

* And through her hand we receive all the graces. (Pages 374 and 

f There is here question of exterior *ste of charity towards our neigh 
bor ; as for interior acts, they have been spoken of above, page 384. 

CHAP. I.] 

The First Commandment. 39 1 

life of the body; next, reputation or character; and after 
that property. Therefore, when he is in extreme neces 
sity, we are obliged to prefer a neighbor s good to our 
own of an inferior order; that is, his spiritual salvation 
to our temporal life; his life to our reputation; and his 
reputation to our property. But we are bound by this 
obligation, as I have said, only when he is in extreme 
necessity. If he is not in such necessity, we are not 
bound to prefer his good, though it be of a superior 
order. So, if I am unjustly assailed by another, who 
attempts to kill me, I can lawfully defend myself, and 
(provided I have no other means of escaping death) I 
can take away his life, though, by dying in that state of 
sin, he should lose his spiritual life and be damned: for, 
in that case, it is not necessary for my neighbor to kill 
me in order to save his soul. 


By the precept of charity we are bound to love all 
who have died in favor with God. We cannot love the 
damned ; on the contrary, we are bound to hate them 
eternally as the enemies of God. 

We must love all the living, even though they be sin 
ners, and even though they be our own enemies. 

I say even sinners; for, though they are now indeed 
enemies of God, they may still be reconciled with him, 
and may obtain eternal life. 

I also say, even our enemies ; because the law of Jesus 
Christ is a law of love. God wishes that all, even our 
enemies, should love us ; and in like manner, he com 
mands us to love even those who hate us. The pagans 
love all who love them; but we Christians are obliged to 
love even those who wish us evil. But I say to you, love your 
enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that 
persecute and calumniate you? When a Christian forgives 

1 " Ego autem dico vobis : Diligite inimicos vestros ; benefacite his 

39 2 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

an enemy, he may be sure of obtaining from God the par 
don of his sins; for the Lord has said : Forgive, and you 
shall be forgiven? But, on the other hand, he who will 
not pardon others, cannot expect forgiveness from God. 
For, says St. ]&*&$, judgment without mercy to him that hath 
not done mercy? It is but just that God should not have 
compassion on the man who has not compassion on his 
neighbor. "With what face," says St. Augustine, "can 
he ask forgiveness of his sins, who refuses to obey him 
that commands him to pardon others?" 3 Do you wish 
to take revenge for the injuries that your neighbor has 
done you ? If you do, God will take vengeance on you 
for the numberless insults that you have offered to his 
divine Majesty. 

It is not thus the saints act: the saints seek to do good 
to those from whom they have received evil. St. Am 
brose settled a pension sufficient for his comfortable 
maintenance on an assassin who had made an attempt 
on his life. St. Catharine of Siena performed the office 
of a servant for a woman who had endeavored to destroy 
her reputation. In the life of St. John the Almoner, it 
is related that one of his relatives, who had been outra 
geously insulted by an inn-keeper in Alexandria, laid his 
complaint before the saint. St. John said to him: "As 
this publican has been so audacious, I will teach him his 
duty, and will treat him so as to excite the wonder of 
the whole city." And what did the saint do? He 
ordered his steward never afterwards to exact the yearly 
rent that the inn-keeper had to pay him. Such was the 
revenge that the saint inflicted, and that truly excited 

qui oderunt vos, et orate pro persequentibus et calumniantibus vos."- 
Matt. v. 44. 

1 " Dimittite, et dimittemini." Ltike, vi. 37. 

2 " Judicium enim sine misericordia illi qui non fecit misericordiam." 
James, ii. 13. 

<l Nescio qua fronte indulgentiam peccatorum obtinere poterit, qui, 
Deo prsecipiente veniara dare, non acquiescit." Serm. 273, E. B. app. 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 393 

the wonder of the whole city. Thus the saints sought 
revenge, and thus they became saints. 

But, on the other hand, how miserable is the soul that 
bears hatred to a neighbor ! The author of the " Parish 
Priest s Companion" relates a story of two men who 
hated each other, one of whom, being on the point of 
death, was persuaded by his confessor to be reconciled 
to his enemy. The sick man consented; the other came, 
and peiice was made between them. But as he was 
going out of the sick man s room, he said: "This fellow 
would never be reconciled to me if he had not lost all 
hopes of ever being able to take revenge." The dying 
man overheard the words, and answered: "If I recover 
you shall see whether I will not take revenge." But he 
was choked with passion and died. Nevertheless he 
had his revenge as he had promised. For one day, 
while his enemy was in the street, a frightful spectre 
appeared with an iron mace in his hand, and said to 
him: "I have come to have revenge; as we have been 
enemies in life, we will be enemies forever in hell." 
And he killed him with his mace. 

I. Among the obligations, then, of the precept of 
charity, the first is to love all men, not only with an 
internal, but also with an external love. Hence, we are 
bound to exhibit to an enemy all the ordinary signs of 
benevolence which we show to friends. We are bound 
to salute him when he salutes us; and with regard to 
Superiors, and persons whose rank is superior to ours, it 
is our duty to salute them before they salute us. And 
if without a grievous inconvenience I can salute even an 
equal, and thus free him from the hatred that he bears 
me, I am obliged to do so. Moreover, if a person who 
had received an injury or wound from another should 
say, that he forgave the person who inflicted the injury 

394 Instructions for the People . LPART i. 

or wound, but should refuse to remit the injury, on the 
pretence that it is useful to punish malefactors, I should 
scarcely absolve him, because I can hardly be persuaded, 
if there are no other just causes to excuse him, that he 
is free from the desire of revenge. 

II. The second obligation that we owe to our neigh 
bor is to give him alms when he is in need, particularly 
if he is ashamed to beg, and we have it in our power to 
assist him. But yet that which rcmaineth, give alms, 1 is the 
precept of Jesus Christ. However, it is necessary to 
make a distinction : when a poor person is in extreme 
necessity, and in danger of death, we are obliged to 
relieve him with those goods that are not necessary for 
the preservation of our life. When he is in grievous 
necessity, we are bound to assist him with our super 
fluities, that is, those things that we have beyond what 
is necessary for our state or condition. 

How many blessings will God bestow upon us if we 
give relief to the poor ! The Archangel Raphael said to 
Tobias, Alms deliver eth from death, and the same is that 
which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life 
everlasting? Alms deliver.eth from death that is, eter 
nal death; for no one can escape temporal death. It 
purgeth away sins that is, it obtains for us the divine 
graces to enable us to cleanse our souls from sin. And 
maketh to find mercy and life everlasting; because by 
the mercy we show to others, God is moved to extend 
mercy to us, and to bring us to the glory of heaven. 
He that hath mercy on the poor, lendeth to the Lord ; and He 
will repay him. When we can do nothing else, let us at 
least assist our neighbor by recommending him to God. 

1 "Quod superest, date eleemosynam." Luke, xi. 41. 

2 " Eleemosyna a morte liberal ; et ipsa est quse purgat peccata, et 
facit invenire misericordiam et vitam aeternam." To(>. xii. 9. 

3 " Foeneratur Domino, qui miseretur pauperis ; et vicissitudinem 
suam reddet ei." Prov. xix. 17. 

CHAP, i.i The First Commandment. 395 

If we have nothing else to give him, let us at least say a 
"Hail Mary" for his soul. 

In the life of St. Francis Xavier, it is related that he 
one day asked of Peter Veglio, a man who was in com 
fortable circumstances, a marriage-portion for a young 
woman who was exposed to great danger. Peter was 
playing chess, and jocosely said to the saint: " How 
can you expect that I will give you my own prop 
erty, when I am trying to win what belongs to an 
other?" And then added immediately: "Here is the 
key of my desk; go, and take as much as you want." 
The saint took three hundred crowns, and afterwards 
said to his friend: " Peter, know that God has accepted 
your alms, and on his part I promise that, during life, 
you shall always have the means of living in comfort; 
and before you die, in order that you may be well pre 
pared for death, you shall be warned of its approach by 
wine tasting bitter in your mouth." The prediction 
was verified. One day as Peter was drinking, his wine 
tasted bitter; and immediately he began to prepare for 
death. Thus he led a happy life, and died a happy death. 

Alms, then, " make us find the divine mercy" that 
is, mercy for past sins, but not license to sin with im 
punity. "For," says St. Augustine, "he who would 
corrupt, as it were, the divine justice by charity to the 
poor, shall be damned in spite of all his alms, and shall 
experience the divine justice." 

III. The third obligation is fraternal correction, which 
we ought to apply to our neighbor when he is in mortal 
sin, or in danger of falling into mortal sin, and when 
there is reason to hope that the correction will be profit 
able to him. Go and rebuke him? says Jesus Christ. You 
are obliged to do this, even when the person who sins 
is your Superior, or even your father. And, according 
to St Thomas, if the first admonition has not been 

1 " Vadc, t-l corripe eum." Alatt. xviii. 15. 

396 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

effectual, you are bound to repeat the correction several 
times, where there is reason to hope that it will be use 

We are bound to this obligation: 

1. When the sin of our neighbor is certain, but not 
when it is doubtful; 

2. When there is no other person capable of giving the 
admonition, and when it is not expected that any other 
will give it; 

3. When there is no ground fora prudent fear that by 
correcting him, we shall suffer a grievous loss or incon 
venience. For when we have just reason to apprehend 
such loss or inconvenience, we are excused from the 
obligation of correction, Because it is only an obligation* 
of charity. But fathers and mothers are bound to cor 
rect their children, even when the correction is attended 
with grievous inconvenience. But we shall speak at 
length on this point in treating of the fourth command 

Remember, however, that it is frequently requisite to 
defer the correction, and wait for a more convenient 
time and occasion, that the admonition may be more 

IV. The fourth obligation of fraternal charity is, 
when we are able to comfort the afflicted, and particu 
larly the sick. Jesus Christ says that what is done to 
the poor he accepts as done to himself. As long as you 
did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Afe. 1 
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say that it was 
more pleasing to her to be employed in assisting a 
neighbor than to be united with God in ecstasy: and 
for this she assigned the following reason " When 
I am in ecstasy God assists me;, but, in relieving a 
neighbor, I assist God." Hence, St. Cyprian writes, 

1 " Quamdiu fecistis uni ex his fratribus meis minimis, mihi fecis- 
tis." Matt. xxv. 40. 

CHAP. LI The First Commandment. 397 

" that he who assists his neighbor makes God his 

I may here relate that act of heroic chanty towards a 
neighbor which the ecclesiastical historians tell us of 
St. Didymus. St. Theodora was a virgin, whom a 
tryannical magistrate, in hatred to the faith, sent to a 
brothel. St. Didymus went to see her there, and said 
to her: "Theodora, fear no injury from me; I am come 
to save your honor. Take my clothes and put them on, 
and leave me yours. In this way you may escape un 
sullied from this place of infamy;" and so it was. St. 
Theodora, in her soldier s dress, was not recognized, and 
escaped unsullied; and St. Didymus remained there 
dressed as a woman. For this act he was condemned 
to death by the tyrant. Theodora, hearing of this, 
went to see him in his prison, and said to him: " I con 
sented that you should save my honor, but not that you 
should rob me of the crown of martyrdom: this belongs 
to me of right. If you intended to rob me of it, you 
deceived me." The judge, when he heard of this holy 
contest, condemned both to be beheaded; and both had 
the happiness of suffering martyrdom for Jesus Christ. 

V. The fifth obligation of fraternal charity is, to show 
good example and not to give scandal to our neighbor. 
Scandal is defined an improper word or act that leads 
another to sin. 

Scandal is twofold direct and indirect. It is direct 
when a person deliberately intends to induce others to 
commit sin; and indirect when he uses language, or 
gives an example, calculated to lead others into sin. 
Both the one and the other are mortal sins when they 
are actually the occasion of any one committing a griev 
ous fault. 

There are also two other kinds of scandal scandal of the 
weak, and. Pharisaical scandal. A person gives scandal to 
1 " Deum computat dcbitorem." DC O/>crc et Elecm. ad fin. 

398 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

the weak when he does an indifferent, or even a good act, 
which is to others, on account of their weakness, an 
occasion of sin; for example, a young woman knows 
that by going to the chapel, or to the park, she gives a 
dissolute young man, who waits there for her, an occa 
sion of bad thoughts. She is, in such a case, obliged, if 
she can do it without great inconvenience, to take away 
the occasion by abstaining from going there. But for 
how long? Must she forever abstain from going to 
these places? No; but only as long as Christian pru 
dence dictates; otherwise it would be a grievous incon 
venience, and to that charity does not oblige her. 

Pharisaical scandal is the scandal taken by those who, 
without reason, and through their own malice, wish to 
be scandalized at any action. The occasions of this 
kind of scandal we are not bound to avoid, because it is 
not true scandal. 

The worst kind of scandal is that which is given by 
those who are tale-bearers. They hear one person speak 
ing ill of another, and immediately go and relate to the 
other what they have heard; from tale-bearing of this 
kind arise hatred, discord, and quarrels. For all these 
sinful consequences, tale-bearers have to render an ac 
count to God. Observe the advice of the Holy Ghost 
on this point: Hast thou heard a word against thy neighbor ? 
let it die within thee. 1 Have you heard a person speak 
ing ill of another? let what you have heard die within 
you; tell it to no one.* Others, though there is no in 
tention of marriage, carry love-messages to married or 
unmarried women. Others perform the very office of 
the devil by positively tempting a neighbor to sin; and 
some go so far as to teach others to sin, and to point 

" Audisti verbum adversus proximum tuum ? Commoriatur in te." 
Ecclns. xix. 10. 

See Chapter VIII, n. 4. 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 399 

out the means of committing it the devil himself does 
not go so far as this. Some (and this is a common 
scandal) speak immodestly before women, before young 
persons, and even in the presence of innocent little 
children. Oh, what havoc of souls do they cause! It is 
a saying of William of Peraldo that obscene words are 
the spittle of the devil, 1 which murders souls. " It is 
but one person who speaks," says St. Bernard, " and he 
speaks but one word, and destroys thereby a multitude 
of souls." 

Miserable is the man that gives scandal! Our Lord 
says: He that shall scandalize one of these little ones that be 
lieve in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be 
hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the 
depth of the sea.* Is there the least glimmer of hope for 
a man who is cast into the sea with a millstone about 
his neck ? The Gospel appears to say that there is no 
greater hope for the salvation of the authors of scandal. 
St. John Chrysostom writes that the Lord is more in 
clined to show mercy to those who commit other more 
grievous sins, than to those who are guilty of the sin of 
scandal. What! says the Lord to the authors of scan 
dal, are you not satisfied with offending me by your own 
sins? Do you wish to induce others also to insult me ? 
In the Mirror of Examples, it is related that Jesus Christ 
said one day to a scandalous sinner, " Accursed wretch, 
you have despised what I have purchased by my blood." 

A mortal sin of scandal is committed by women who 
go about with their bosom immodestly exposed, or who 
expose their limbs improperly. Also by actors in im- 

1 " Sputa diaboli, mentes necantia." 

2 " Unus loquitur, et unum tantum verbum profert, et tamen multi- 
tudinis audientium animas interficit." In Cant. s. 24, n. 4. 

8 " Qui autem scandalizaverit unum de pusillis istis, qui in me cre- 
dunt, expedit ei ut suspendatur mola asinaria in collo ejus, etdemerga- 
tur in profundum maris." Matt, xviii. 6. 

4OO Instructions for the People. [PART L 

modest comedies, and still more by the persons who 
compose such comedies; also by painters who paint ob 
scene pictures, and by the heads of families who keep 
such pictures in their houses. The father who speaks 
obscenely, or blasphemes the saints, in presence of his 
children, and the mother who brings into her house to 
live among her daughters young men who are in love 
with them, or betrothed to them, or other suspected 
persons, are guilty of a still more grievous sin of scan 
dal. Some mothers say: / do not suspect any evil. I 
answer, that it is their duty to suspect; otherwise they 
will have to render to God an account of all the sins 
which may follow. 

Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh} Listen to 
a horrible thing that happened in the city of Savona in 
the year 1560. I have read it in the chronicles of the 
Capuchins, and it is also related by Father Ardia. 
There was a woman who, even after marriage, did not 
cease giving scandal. This woman one day fell into a fit, 
and while she was in a state of unconsciousness, she saw 
the Lord condemning her to eternal fire. When she re 
covered the use of her senses, she did nothing but cry 
out, " Alas! I am damned, I am damned!" A confessor 
came to comfort her, but she answered, "What have I 
to do with confession ? I am damned." Then her 
daughter approached the bed, in order to encourage her, 
but she cried out: "Ah, accursed child! on your ac 
count, too, I am damned: for through you I have given 
scandal to others." After these words the devils, in 
presence of all who were in the apartment, raised her 
up to the ceiling, and then dashed her so violently 
against the floor that she instantly expired. 

The author of the Parish Priest s Companion relates 
that a boy, who associated with a dissolute young man, 
was scandalized by his bad example, and lost his inno- 

" Vae homini illi per quem scandalum venit!" Matt, xviii. 7 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 401 

cence. On the following morning, the boy went to the 
house of his companion, that they might, as usual, goto 
school together. The father of this wicked young man 
went to the room in which he slept, to reprove him for 
his sloth; but on opening the door he was driven back 
by a frightful spectre. The mother ran to the window, 
and saw her unhappy son dead on the bed, with his head 
hanging down, black as a coal, and covered with marks 
of fire. The parents learned from the boy the scandal 
that had been given to him on the previous day, and 
thus perceived the cause of the vengeance inflicted on 
their unhappy son. 

Is there, then, no hope of salvation for him who has 
been guilty of the sin of scandal to others? Yes; the 
mercy of God is infinite; but he who has given scandal 
must do great penance, and must unceasingly ask par 
don of God; he must also repair the scandal by giving 
good example, by frequenting the sacraments, and lead 
ing a life of piety. 

Fearing that he had given scandal by dissuading a per 
son from a religious vocation, St. Raymond de Penna- 
fort left the world, and became a religious of the Order 
of St. Dominic. 1 

We read in the Mirror of Examples of a young woman 
who was tormented by the attention of a young man 
who had fallen in love with her eyes, that she tore out 
her eyes and sent them to him, with this message: 
" Take my eyes and do not trouble me any more." St. 
Euphemia cut off her nose and lips to prevent herself 
from being seduced. St. Euphrasia said to a soldier 
who made an attempt on her virtue: " If you will leave 
me alone I will tell you of certain herbs that will make 
you invulnerable," and she consented that the soldier 
might first try the efficacy of her receipt upon herself. 
After she had prepared the herbs, the simple soldier 

1 Bollaiut, 7 Jan. 

402 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

struck a hard blow with his sword upon her neck, and 
of course cut her head off. Such were the deeds which 
these great women performed in order to take away all 
occasion of scandal. 



By the first precept of the Decalogue we are also 
obliged to practise the virtue of religion. 

It is a virtue which renders to God the honor due to him. 
It also includes the duty of venerating the divine 
Mother, the angels, and the saints. We should venerate 
their relics and sacred images, for in these we do not 
venerate the metal, the wood, or the canvas of the im 
ages, as the idolaters did, but the saints whom these im 
ages represent to us. 

The vices opposed to the virtue of religion are super 
stition and ir religion. 


Superstition consists in giving to God or the saints a 
false honor, as would be the case if a person gave to the 
Blessed Virgin the adoration due to God, as some here 
tics did, or if a person exposed false relics of the saints 
to the veneration of the faithful, or should publish false 
miracles. It is also superstition, and a most grievous 
sin, to give to creatures what is due to God. 

Superstition contains four kinds of sin: Idolatry, 
divination, magic, and vain observance. 

1. Idolatry, such as the worship of the pagans, who 
adored as gods men who were dead, and even animals, 
statues, and other creatures. 

2. Divination consists in seeking, by an express or 
tacit compact with the devil, to know things that are 
future or occult, through his agency, as those who try 
to discover a theft by turning a sieve. 

CHAP, i.] The First Commandment. 403 

3. Magic is nearly the same thing as divination, and 
consists in seeking to produce, through the devil, any 
effect that exceeds human power. 

All these are most grievous sins, against which God 
has threatened the most severe chastisements. The soul 
that shall go aside after magicians and soothsayers, and shall 
commit fornication with them, I will set my face against that 
soul, and destroy it out of the midst of its people. 1 

4. Vain observance consists in endeavoring to attain 
any object, or to get rid of any infirmity or pain, by the 
employment of certain vain and disproportionate means, 
such as by uttering certain words, by saying a prayer in 
a certain posture, with yellow candles, or with a fixed 
number of candles, or with the eyes closed, or making 
the sign of the cross with the left hand. Give up all 
such vain, foolish practices. Either you expect the 
favor from God, and in that case these things are not 
wanted, or you expect it from the devil, and that is a 
most grievous sin, because it is not lawful to have any 
communication with the enemy of God. 

Abstain, then, from all these kinds of superstition: 
such as from those signs, cards, or words that persons 
employ in order to prevent worms from doing injury; 
to tie up dogs in order to remove pain, stop the flowing 
of blood, make tempests cease, gain the affection of 
others, and the like. All these are most grievous sins. 
Be assured that all these superstitions are lies, deceits, 
and thefts; if you believe in them, you will lose, not 
only your money, but your soul also. When you meet 
with any tribulation, have recourse to the Most Holy 
Sacrament, to the crucifix, to the Virgin Mary, to St. 
Antony of Padua, to St. Vincent Ferrer; get some of 
the oil from their lamps, get a medal of the Immaculate 
Virgin or a little picture of a saint; so without sinning 

1 " Anima quee declinaverit ad magos et ad ariolos . . . ponam 
faciem meam contra earn, et interficiam illam de medio populi sui." : 
ev, xx, 6. 

404 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

you will obtain the favor you seek; but if you have re 
course to any superstitious means, you will not receive 
the favor you want, and you will lose your soul. 

Let us now say something on irreligion, which is an 

irreverence offered to God, and contains three species 

tempting God, sacrilege, and simony. 

1. A person would be guilty of tempting God if he 
threw himself into a deep pool of water to try whether 
God is able to save him; to tempt God in such a manner 
is a mortal sin. 

2. Sacrilege may be committed in three ways: 

First, by offering an injury to a person consecrated to 
God that is, by striking an ecclesiastic or a religious. 
A person who strikes an ecclesiastic or a religious incurs 
excommunication. It is also a sacrilege to commit a 
sin against purity with a person who has made a vow of 

Secondly, it is a sacrilege to defile a holy place by any 
external sin, whether in act, or in word, by theft, by 
speaking obscenely, by blaspheming God or the saints, 

Thirdly, it is a sacrilege to profane holy things, such 
as to receive a sacrament in the state of mortal sin, to 
treat with contempt the relics of the saints, the cross, 
sacred images, beads, and the like. It would be a still 
greater sacrilege to employ sacred things as a means of 
committing any sin. 

4. Finally, simony consists in buying or selling any 
thing spiritual for a temporal price. Hence, it is a sin 
against religion to endeavor to purchase by money, 
service, or anything temporal .a relic of a saint, abso 
lution from a confessor, any ecclesiastical order, any 
benefice from a bishop, and other things of the same 

CHAP, ii.] The Second Commandment. 405 



" Thou shall not take the name of thy God in vain." l 

THIS commandment imposes three obligations: not to 
utter blasphemies, not to be guilty of false oaths, and to 
fulfil vows. Let us treat each of these separately. 


God is honored by praise and prayer: he is dishonored 
by blasphemy. 


1. Blasphemy is committed by attributing to any 
creature a divine attribute; for example, by saying that 
the devil is omnipotent that he is infinitely holy or 
wise. Hence, it is a sin to believe that the devil knows 
all future contingent things, such as what numbers a 
man will throw with the dice, and the like. God alone 
knows all the things that are future; the devil can only 
know external things that have already happened, and 
from present things make some guess at the future. 

2. Blasphemy is also committed by ascribing to God 
what is injurious to him: by saying, for example, 
Cursed be God, or bad luck to God, or in spite of God, But 
to say that God does what is unjust, that he creates men and 
afterwards forgets them, is a heretical blasphemy. 

3. But blasphemy may also be committed by acts; 

1 " Non assumes nomen Domini Dei tui in vanum," Exod. xx. 7. 

406 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

for example, if a person should contemptuously spit 
against heaven, or if he should trample on the cross on 
beads, or images. 

4- It is also grievous blasphemy to curse the saints or 
holy things, such as the Mass, the Church, holidays 
Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, Holy Saturday, or the 

5- It is blasphemy to curse the souls of men, particu 
larly of the dead, unless the curse be intended for the 
souls of the damned. 

6. To say-not, ill befall such a saint, but-something 
else which conveys no grievous insult, is no very great 
blasphemy. Nor is it blasphemy to say, ill befall St 
Giles, St. George, when you only refer to the place so 
called, not to the saint. 

7- To curse creatures such as the wind, the rain the 
year, the day, and the like-is not blasphemy nor a 
grievous sin, but only a venial fault, provided such 
maledictions are not referred to God, as would be the 
case if a person said, Cursed be the wind of God, the day of 
God; and provided also that they are not creatures in 
which the power and greatness of God are shown forth 
m a special manner, as they are in heaven and the 
human soul. It would be blasphemy to curse the 
world, unless the malediction were confined to the 
wicked world, of which St. John says: The whole world 
is seated in wickedness, 1 

8. It is not blasphemy to curse in general terms the 
faith of another person, provided no words such as the 
Christian faith, or the holy faith, be used, for, if such 
words be not used, the curse may be intended for the 
human faith, or the fidelity of the person to his word 
9- Neither is it blasphemy to curse the dead, unless 
2 malediction be uttered or intended against the 
saints, or the souls of the dead. The reason why it is not 
"Mundus totus in maligno positus est." i John, v. 19. 


The Second Commandment. 407 

blasphemy nor a grievous sin to curse the dead in-general 
terms is, because the word dead signifies men deprived 
of life; particularly since the word dead is applicable, 
not to the souls, but, strictly speaking, to the bodies; 
for the bodies only die, but not the souls. I add, it is 
certain that a man who is living has both a body and 
soul: and, according to St. Thomas 1 and the generality 
of theologians, it is not a mortal sin to utter an impre 
cation or curse against him, unless the evil implied in 
the curse be interiorly desired. Now, if to utter a curse 
against a living person, in whom there certainly are a 
soul and a body (without internally wishing evil to him) 
is not a grievous sin, why should it be mortally sinful 
to utter an imprecation against a dead man, without de 
siring any evil to befall him ? I add, moreover, that 
they who curse the dead ordinarily do not intend to 
curse their souls. In general, they intend to injure 
not the dead, but the living, against whom they are 
enraged. This is not merely my opinion; I have seen 
only three authors who have written on this point. 
They all hold the doctrine I have laid down. Besides, I 
have asked the opinion of several learned men in Na 
ples, and of the three celebrated Congregations of secular 
missionary priests, of Father Pavone, of the Archbishop 
and of St. George, which Congregations contain the 
flower of the Neapolitan clergy; and all have been of 
my opinion.* 

For my part, I know not how some persons can have 
courage to condemn certain actions as mortal sins, when 

2, 2, q. 76, a I. 

* We should here bear in mind that cursing the dead was one of the 
habits of the people of Italy. Many regarded this as a grievous sin, so 
that in Puglia it was made a reserved case. The inconveniences that 
resulted from this severity induced St. Alphonsus to publish, on this 
question, about the year 1746, a learned dissertation, of which he here, 
gives a summary. (Villecourt, 1. 2, ch. 26 and 46.) 

408 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

all theologians, ancient and modern, teach that no act 
should be condemned as a mortal sin unless it be certain 
that it is mortally sinful. " One thing," wrote St. Ray 
mond to one of his friends, " I advise you, do not be too 
prone to decide sins to be mortal where you have no 
certain proof from Scripture." And St. Antoninus 
taught, " unless there is express authority of Holy Scrip 
ture, or of a canon or definition of the Church, or an 
evident reason, it is very dangerous to determine a sin 
to be mortal; for even though it be not mortal, if it is 
denned to be so, the person who acts against this de 
cision will sin mortally." 2 But if the confessor cannot 
clearly make out that it is a mortal sin, it is not fitting 
that he should burden the conscience with the guilt of 
mortal sin. But, to curse the dead, even without in 
ternally wishing evil to them, is a sin; it is at least a 
venial sin, and more grievous than other venial sins. 
Some people have the dead always in their mouth. 
What a shameful vice! 

Let us now say something on the enormity of any 
blasphemy. In the Old Law, God ordained that every 
blasphemer should be banished from the city and the 
camp, and that he should be stoned by all the people. 
Bring the blasphemer without the camp. . . and lei all the 
people stone him* Not very long ago, when a man 
uttered a blasphemy in Venice, an officer was sent from 

" Unum tantum consulo, quod non sis nimis pronus judicare mor- 
talia peccata, ubi tibi non constat per certam Scripturam. " Summ. 1. 
3, de Pccnit. % 21. 

"Nisi ad hoc habeatur auctoritas expressa Scripturee sacra, aut 
Canonis, seu determinationis Ecclesiae, vel evidens ratio, non nisi peri- 
culosissime determinatur; nam, si determinetur quod sit ibi mortale, 
et non sit, mortaliter peccabit contra faciens." P. 2, tit. i, 6, n, 28. 

" Educ blasphemum extra castra . . . et lapidet eum populus uni- 
versus." Lwit. xxiv. 14.* 

CHAP, ii.] The Second Commandment. 409 

the court to seize the blasphemer in his own house; his 
tongue was cut out. Even at the present day, the 
penalty sanctioned by the King of Naples against blas 
phemy is, to brand the forehead of the blasphemer with 
a red-hot iron, and then to send him to the galleys; but 
the penalty is not often inflicted, because human 
motives prevent the witnesses from giving testimony 
against blasphemers. To accuse a blasphemer through 
hatred of his person is not right; but it is a good and 
holy act to convict blasphemers, in order that the ac 
cursed vice of blasphemy, and the scandal that it gives 
to those who hear it, may be abolished by the infliction 
of chastisement. 

I say the scandal; for children, by listening to the 
blasphemies of grown-up persons, learn to become blas 
phemers. What a misery to see so many little ones 
who know nothing about the things of God and yet 
know very well how to curse St. Peter or St. Mark. St. 
Peter! St. Mark! What evil have these saints done you, 
that you should blaspheme them ? You quarrel with 
your wife, your master, or with a servant, and you assail 
the saints! The saints continually pray to God for us; 
and will you blaspheme them ? I wonder that the earth 
does not open and swallow up the blasphemer! Some 
are found to blaspheme him who keeps them in exist 
ence! Instead of thanking God for preserving their 
life, and not sending them to hell, they blaspheme his 
divine Majesty. 

Every blasphemy uttered against a saint or a holiday 
is a most grievous sin. St. Jerome says that compared 
with blasphemy, every sin is small. 1 St. John Chrys- 
ostom says that when a person blasphemes, his mouth 
should be instantly closed. The holy Doctor says: 
" Strike him on the mouth; bruise it so that he cannot 
1 "Omne quippe perratum comparatum blasphemise, levins est."- 
In Isaiam, c. 18. 

4*0 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

speak." Blasphemers are worse than the damned, for 
they blaspheme the author of their torments, but you 
blaspheme your benefactor. 

Oh! what frightful chastisements have I seen inflicted 
by God on blasphemers! In the kingdom of Naples a 
man who had blasphemed the crucifix of a certain place 
suddenly fell dead as he was passing before the crucifix 
Not many years ago, in another place (I have spoken 
with a person who was present), a coachman blasphemed 
a saint, and was immediately upset into the water; the 
pole of the carriage pressed on his neck, and he was 
drowned. But if a blasphemer escapes chastisement in 
this life he shall be punished all the more in the next 
Our Lord showed St. Frances of Rome the special and 
horrible torments of the tongue that blasphemers suffer 
in hell. 


My brother, if you have been hitherto in the habit of 
blaspheming, endeavor now with all your strength to 
get rid of that accursed vice. What profit do you de 
rive from your accursed blasphemies ? You gain nothing 
by them; on the contrary they keep you always in beg 
gary. You receive no pleasure from them; what pleasure 
can you feel in cursing holy things ? You receive no 
honor from them, but infamy; blasphemers are avoided 
and hated, even by their fellow blasphemers. 

But I want you to understand that unless during this 
mission you renounce this vice, you will never get rid 
of it. It increases with years, because with years your 
sorrows and infirmities increase; and thus acts of im 
patience become more frequent. Thus, you will take 
this vice with you to the grave. A blasphemer, who 
had been sentenced to be hanged, the moment he was 
rown off the gibbet, gave way to the bad habit he had 

"Da alapam; contere os ejus." Ad pop. Ant. horn. i. 

CHAP. ii. The Second Commandment. 411 

contracted, burst out into a blasphemy against a saint, 
and so ended his life. A coachman, who had the habit 
of this vice, blasphemed at the] hour of his death, and 
died miserably. Make now a good confession; make a 
firm resolution during this mission to blaspheme no 
more. And for the future say every morning, as soon 
as you rise, three " Hail Marys," in honor of the Blessed 
Virgin, that she may obtain for you the grace to be de 
livered from so horrible a vice. And when you meet 
with any occasion of impatience, accustom yourself to 
curse the devil or your sins, and leave the saints alone. 
Banish forever from your mouth the curse and impre 
cation, and say instead: Mary, pray for me; Virgin 
Mary, give me patience and strength. In the beginning 
you will have great trouble in conquering yourselves, 
and shaking off the habit of blaspheming. But when 
the habit is once overcome, you will, by God s assist 
ance, easily a bstain altogether from this vice. 

But that you may conceive a greater horror of blas 
phemy, listen to the vengeance that God once inflicted 
on a blasphemer. Cardinal Baronius relates in his 
Annals 1 that an inhabitant of Constantinople, after hav 
ing uttered a blasphemy, went to take a bath. After 
washing, he suddenly rushed out of the bath, crying out 
that he was a dead man, at the same time lacerating his 
legs with his nails, and tearing the flesh off his arms 
with his teeth. He was seized, and wrapped up in a 
sheet; but this, instead of mitigating, only increased his 
tortures, so they took it away again; but his skin ad 
hered to it, and came away with it, and thus the misera 
ble man died, and became the prey of the devils, who 
carried him off to be tormented forever in hell. 

St. Gregory also relates 2 in his dialogues that a child 
five years old, the son of a Roman nobleman, by listen 
ing to the blasphemies of the servants, contracted a 

1 Ann. 494. a Dial. 1. 4, c. 18. 

412 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

habit of blaspheming, and was not corrected for it by 
his father. One evening, after having been guilty of 
several blasphemies during the day, he was suddenly 
seized with terror in the presence of his father, and be 
gan to cry out: Oh! look at those black men, who want 
to take me away with them! He threw himself in the 
arms of his father, and began as usual to blaspheme, and 
so expired in the act. Woe to you, O fathers! who do 
not correct your children when they blaspheme; and 
still greater woe, if you give them bad example by blas 
pheming in their presence. 



i. WHAT is AN OATH? 

An oath is an invocation of the name of God to attest 
the truth of what is asserted. 

It is an oath to say, in confirmation of an assertion: 
By God, or by any saint, or by anything sacred ; by the 
sacraments, by the Gospel, by the Church, by the cross, by the 
Mass. It is also an oath to swear by any creature in 
which the goodness and power of God shine forth in a 
special manner, such as when a person swears by his 
soul, by heaven, or by the earth. 

Is it an oath to say, God lives ; God sees it? It is 
necessary to make a distinction. If God be called on 
to attest the truth of what is asserted, it is an oath; but 
if the words be uttered by way of assertion, without 
calling God as a witness, there is no oath. 

Neither is it an oath to say, By my conscience ; or By my 
faith ; unless divine faith is expressed or understood. 

It is not an oath simply to s&y,.f swear that such is the 
case ; that is, provided the person who uses the words has 
not been asked to swear by God, or by any saint, or by 
anything sacred. 

CHAP, ii.] The Second Commandment. 413 


There are four kinds of oaths: 

1. An assertory oath, by which a person swears to the 
[truth of an assertion. 

2. K promissory oath, by which a person swears to ful 
fil a promise. 

3. An imprecatory oath, when, for example, a person 
says, May God chastise me unless I do such a thing. 

4. A comminatory oath, when a person says, Unless you 
do such a thing, by God, I will make you repent. 


In assertory oaths, he who asserts a falsehood is guilty 
of sin. 

In promissory oaths, it is a sin to swear without the 
intention of fulfilling the promise. But if, in a matter 
of small moment, a person swore with the intention of 
performing his promise, that afterwards did not adhere 
to it, it is very probable, as several theologians say, that 
he would not be guilty of a mortal sin, because God is 
called on to attest the present intention of the man who 
makes the promise, and not the future execution of the 

Two rules ought to be observed with regard to prom 
issory oaths. The first is, that the oath can never oblige 
a person to do what is unlawful. 1 The second is that 
when the thing promised is lawful, the oath is always 
binding. 2 For example: if through fear of injuries 
threatened by a robber you promise on oath to send him 
what he asks, are you bound to fulfil your promise ? 
Yes, you are bound to adhere to your promise, because, 
although the robber extorted the promise unjustly, there 

1 " Juramentum nunquam obligat ad illicitum." 

2 Juramentum servari dcbet, semper ac servari potest." 

4 1 4 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

is nothing unlawful in its fulfilment. However you may 
go to the bishop for a dispensation from the oath, and 
then you will be no longer bound by the promise that 
had been extorted by threats. l< If there is a sufficient 
cause, it is lawful to swear, without the intention of 
swearing, whether the matter is small or great." This 
proposition is a proposition condemned by Pope Inno 
cent XI. But can a person swear to fulfil a promise 
without having the intention of taking an oath? No; 
that cannot be done; it would be contrary to the decla 
ration of Innocent XL 

Imprecatory oaths bind only when the name of God 
or something sacred is invoked. 

The same is to be said of comminatory oaths. But 
when the punishment threatened is unjust, the oath 
does not bind. Thus the oaths that fathers unjustly 
make in threatening their children are not obligatory; 
such as "By God! I will kill you, if you do not return 
soon, if you do not finish this work," ete. 

To be lawful, an oath must have three conditions: 
truth, justice, &n& judgment? It must have truth that is, 
the person who swears must be certain of the truth of 
his assertion; it is a sin to swear to what is doubtful. 
An oath must have/?/ -$//><?, hence a person is guilty of a 
double sin by swearing to do what is unjust or unlaw 
ful. It must have judgment that is, there must be a 
reasonable dause for taking the oath; otherwise, though 
the oath may have truth and justice, the person who 
takes it will be guilty, not of mortal, but of venial sin. 

It is necessary also to remark, that he who swears 
falsely before a judge in a court of justice is guilty of a 
double sin; and should his testimony do injury to a 
neighbor, he is bound to make restitution for the damage 

1 " Cum causa, licitum est jurare sine animo jurandi, sive res sit levis, 
sive sit gravis." Prop. damn, 
er. iv. 2. 

CHAP, ii.] The Second Commandment. 4 1 5 

done. A witness is always bound to give true answers 
whenever he is lawfully interrogated by a judge.* But 
some one may say: " Father, if I told the truth, my 
neighbor would be damaged; through charity for him, 
I said that I knew nothing about him." Oh, what 
charity! Will you, in order to treat a neighbor with 
charity, commit a most grievous sin, and condemn your 
self to hell? It is thus that crimes are multiplied; 
witnesses deny what they have seen, malefactors are 
acquitted, and thefts, homicides, and so many other 
evils increase. If the guilty were punished, we should 
not hear of so many crimes. 

How is the obligation of an oath taken away ? It may 
be taken away by annulment, by dispensation, commutation, 
and relaxation. 

1. It may be annulled by any one who has dominative 
power, such as a father, a husband, a guardian, prelate 
or abbess; and to annul an oath a just cause is not neces 

2. By dispensation or commutation, and such dispensa 
tion or commutation may be given by the Pope or 
bishop ; but to grant a dispensation or commutation a 
just cause is required. 

3. By relaxation : this may be given by the bishop, and 
by all who have episcopal faculties. 


The Vow. 

With regard to the obligation of a vow, I have to say 
to the people a few things that all ought to know; the 
knowledge of the rest is necessary only for Superiors or 

See Chapter VII. n. i. 

4 1 6 Instructions for the People. IPART i. 

i. WHAT is A Vow? 

It is a deliberate promise made to God to do or to 
omit some act, the performance or omission of which is 
possible, and more perfect than the opposite. 

1. I said that it is a promise which is understood to 
be made with the intention of imposing an obligation ; 
for if the promise be made without an intention of im 
posing an obligation, it is not a vow. When there is a 
doubt whether there was any intention of imposing an 
obligation, it is presumed that there was such an inten 
tion ; because every act is presumed to be done as it 
ought. When it is doubtful whether a person has made 
a vow, or only a simple resolution, he should be asked 
whether in making it he was under the impression that, 
were he to transgress it, he would commit a grievous 
sin. If such were his impression, the vow must be re 
garded as a true and valid one. 

2. I said a deliberate promise ; because, for a vow, the 
perfect use of reason and free will are necessary. Hence, 
vows made by children before the age of seven years are 
not obligatory, unless it be certain that at the time of 
making the vow they had the perfect use of reason. 
Hence, also, a vow made by a person through fear ex 
cited by another in order to extort the vow imposes no 

3. I have said, to do or to omit some act, the perform 
ance or omission of which \s possible and more perfect than 
the opposite; for if the matter of the vow be impossible, 
the promise does not bind. But if it be in part possible, 
and if the object of the promise be divisible, the vow 
obliges to what is possible, provided it be the principal 
matter of the vow. I have also said, more perfect, for if 
the object of the vow be indifferent, or an inferior good, 
the vow is invalid, unless the circumstances render it 
more perfect. 

CHAP, ii.i The Second Commandment. 4 1 7- 

Remember that if a person do the thing to which he 
bound himself by vow, although at the time of doing it 
he did not advert to the vow, he is not obliged to do it 
again in order to fulfil his promise ; for, every one has 
a general intention of first satisfying his obligation, and 
then doing what is merely an act of devotion. For a 
person who is in doubt about having made a vow it is 
safer to fulfil it, but he is not strictly bound to do so. 
A person who is certain of having made a vow, and not 
certain of having fulfilled it, is obliged to do what he 
promised, because the obligation of the vow still holds 


Many theologians say that, if one defers it for two, or 
at most for three years, he is guilty of a mortal sin. 
This is to be understood of vows the matter of which is 
not perpetual, but temporary such as, to visit a holy 
place ; to get Masses said ; and the like. But when the 
matter of the vow is perpetual, theologians say that then 
to defer the execution of the vow for six months is a 
grievous sin. 

But I entreat all, and particularly women (ordinarily 
speaking), to abstain from making vows. So many per 
sons make vows, and afterwards years and years pass 
away, and the vows are not fulfilled. When you wish 
to offer anything to God, make not a vow, but a simple 
resolution, which imposes no obligation. And if any 
one sees that he can scarcely fulfil a vow already made, 
let him procure a commutation from the bishop, or from 
a confessor to whom the bishop has given power to com 
mute the vow. 


It is taken away, i, by a change of the matter ; that is, 
when some circumstance occurs, which, had it been fore- 

4 1 8 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

seen, would have prevented the person from making the 

2. It is taken away by annulment, as we have said re 
garding oaths. A vow may be annulled by a father, a 
husband, or any other person who has dominative power. 
And to take away the obligation of a vow in this manner 
a cause is not necessary. A father or a husband may, 
without cause, invalidate the vow of a child or of his 
wife, and then the obligation of the vow ceases. 

3. The obligation of a vow is taken away by dispensa 
tion or by commutation, which may be obtained from the 
Pope or from one s own bishop. But for the validity of 
a dispensation or commutation a just cause is necessary; 
without it it is null. 

There are five vows from which no one but the Pope 
can dispense, namely, a vow of perpetual chastity, of 
entering a religious Order, of making a pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem, to the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul in 
Rome, and of St. James in Compostella. These are 
called the five reserved vows. They are reserved only 
when the vows are made through a love of virtue, .not 
when they are penal or conditional vows. For example, 
when a person makes a vow to enter religion if he re 
turns to gaming, or on condition that he is freed from a 
certain infirmity, the vow is not reserved. It may be 
dispensed or commuted by the bishop, because it has 
not been made through a love of virtue. 

CHAP, in.] The Third Commandment. 419 



* Remember to sanctify the Sabbath-day." l 

THIS precept imposes two obligations: the first is, to 
abstain from servile works on Sundays and holidays ; 
the second is, to hear Mass on these days. 

In the Old Law the festival day was Saturday; but 
the apostles changed it to Sunday, a day sanctified by 
God over and over again, as St. Leo has remarked. For 
it was on Sunday that the world was created; that Jesus 
Christ rose from the dead ; and that the Holy Ghost 
descended on the apostles. The precept of sanctifying 
the Sunday, according to St. Thomas, 2 and the gene 
rality of theologians, is moral, so far as it is the duty of 
all men to employ some part of their life in the worship 
of God; but ceremor ; al, so far as it determines the exact 
time of this worship. So far as it is moral, all men are 
bound to observe it. As a ceremonial precept it is no 
longer obligatory ; because the Old Law has ceased. 
Hence we are bound to the observance of festivals by a 
precept of the Church, which has determined the days 
that are to be kept holy. 

I now ask, Why has God instituted festival days ? He 
has instituted them that every Christian, having attended 

1 " Memento ut diem Sabbati sanctifices." Exod. xx. 8. 

2 " Praeceptum de sanctificatione Sabbati est morale, quantum ad 
hoc, quod homo deputet aliquod tempus vitse suae ad vacandum divinis; 
. . . sed in quantum in hoc prsecepto determinatur speciale tempus, est 
caere moniale." 2. 2, q. 122, a. 4. 

Instructions for tJic People. 

[PART 1. 

to the concerns of his body during the other days of the 
week, may attend on the festivals to the concerns of his 
soul, not only by hearing Mass, but also by hearing a 
sermon, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, recommending 
himself to God, and by performing other acts of piety. 
But how do many persons spend the holidays? In gam 
bling, in drinking to excess, in obscene discourses. I 
may here tell you a story related by Surius. 1 In the city 
of Dia there was a holy bishop called Stephan. Being 
unable to correct a great irregularity among his people 
who spent the holidays and Sundays in gaming, danc 
ing, and drunkenness, he begged of God that a multi 
tude of hideous devils might appear in the city on a 
certain day. So it happened, and so much terror was 
excited, that all cried aloud for mercy. The people 
promised to amend and the holy bishop by his prayers 
delivered them from these horrible monsters. 

The Obligation of Abstaining from Servile Works. 


It is necessary to distinguish three kinds of works _ 
servile, liberal, and common. 

1. Servile works, as St. Thomas 2 teaches, are in the 
mystic sense sins, but literally they are the works that 
are usually performed only by servants. They are also 
called corporal works such as building, digging, sew 
ing, working iron, stone, or wood, and similar occupa 
tions, which require bodily labor. These are, properly 
speaking, the works which were forbidden in the Old 
Law. You shall do no servile work thereon? 

2. Liberal works or occupations, which are called 

1 Die 7. sept. Vit. c. 9. 

2 Sent. 3, ch. 17, q. i, a. 5, sol. 2. 

" Omne opus servile non facietis in eo." Lev. xxiii. 7. 

CHAP, in.] The Third Commandment. 421 

works of the mind, are those that are performed by men 
in a liberal condition of life such as to study, to teach, 
to play music, to write, and the like. These are per 
mitted on holidays, even though performed for gain. 
Theologians also reckon transcribing among the liberal 
works, because transcribing is connected with the in 
struction of the mind. 

3. Finally, common works, called also intermediate works, 
are those that are performed, not only by servants, but 
also by men in a liberal condition of life. 


On festivals, servile works only are prohibited, but 
not those which are called liberal or common. This is 
the doctrine of theologians who follow the opinion of 
St. Thomas. 1 Corporal works that have nothing to do 
with the ceremonies of worship, are called servile only 
so far as they properly belong to servants, but not so 
when they are commonly performed as well by persons 
of liberal condition as by servants. Before this passage, 
the saint had explained that in the precept of sanctify 
ing holidays servile works ortly are understood to be 
forbidden. Hence, according to the more common and 
more probable opinion, it is not forbidden on holidays 
to travel or to fowl; because these are at least common 
to persons in a servile and liberal condition of life. 
Fishing, when attended with great labor, appears to be 
a servile work, as may be inferred from the canon law 
in which the Pope 2 has given the dispensation to fish 
for sardines. 

It is necessary to remark that the third command- 

1 " Opera etiam corporalia, ad spiritualem Dei cultum non perti- 
nentia, in tantum servilia dicuntur, -in quantum proprie pertinent ad 
servientes; in quantum vero sunt communia et servis et liberis, servilia 
non dicuntur." 2. 2. q. 122, a. 4. 

2 De Ferns, c. 3. 

422 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

ment forbids all work connected with the law courts, 
such as to cite parties, to carry on trials, to pronounce 
or execute sentences, unless they are excused by neces 
sity or piety. 1 

It is also forbidden on festivals to sell goods in public 
shops; but this is permitted at fairs and markets where 
it is the custom to do so, or when the things sold are 
necessary for daily use, such as food, wine, beer, and the 


1. A dispensation of the bishop or even of the parish 
pdest, when there, is a just cause for dispensation, ex 
cuses servile work on festivals. 

2. Servile work on holidays is excused by any custom 
existing in the place, provided the custom is permitted 
and not censured by the bishop. 

3. Charity, or the relief of a neighbor who is need, is a 
sufficient, excuse. 

4. Necessity, as when a person would not have food for 
the day if he did not work, or when a person works in 
order to avoid a grievous loss. Hence it is lawful to 
reap corn, to gather grapes in the vintage, to gather 
corn, hay, olives, chestnuts, and other fruits that are in 
danger of being damaged. It is also lawful to do what 
ever is necessary for the day, such as to prepare food, to 
arrange and sweep the house, to make the beds, etc. 

5. Piety excuses servile work; thus, it is lawful to cul 
tivate the ground belonging to poor churches, or to 
build them through charity; but this cannot be done 
without the leave of the bishop, or without great actual 

6. Smallness of matter excuses from the violation of the 
precept. But what should we consider to be sufficient 
matter for mortal sin ? Some theologians say, that to 

1 De Perils^ c. ult. 


in.] The Third Commandment. 423 

work for an hour is a mortal sin; others extend the time 
to two hours; but unless there is a just cause, the short 
ness of the time employed in work does not excuse from 
venial sin. 


Some will not work on the other days of the week, 
and on holidays they are not ashamed to work for half 
the day, and even compel their servants and children to 
work. " Father," they say, " we are poor." But it is 
not every kind of poverty that excuses from working on 
festivals. Your poverty or necessity must be such that, 
unless you work, you will not have food for the day for 
yourself and for your family. Every one who lives by 
his labor is poor, and in some necessity; but such 
necessity does not excuse from sin. 

Let children remember that when a parent commands 
them to work on a holiday, in opposition to the law of 
God, they are not bound to obey him: on the contrary, 
if they work, they are guilty of sin. They are excused 
from sin only when, if they do not work, they will suffer 
a great loss, or at least a grievous inconvenience; for 
the precepts of the Church are not binding when the 
observance of them is attended with grievous incon 

But the servants of a master who obliges them to 
work on holidays of obligation should plainly say to 
him: "This is a holiday; I am a Christian, and I will 
not work." If the master compels them by grievous 
threats, it is their duty to leave him, and to seek a 
master who observes the Christian law. 

I will tell you how God punishes those who work on 
holidays of obligation. In the diocese of Fano (Ponti 
fical States) they were celebrating the feast of St. Ursus, 
the bishop and the patron of the place. A countryman 
went on that day to plough as usual; and when he was 

424 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

asked why he did not respect the festival of St. Ursus, 
he answered: "If he is Ursus, I am a man in want of 
bread." At these words the earth opened, and swal 
lowed him up alive, with his plough and oxen; and the 
marks of the chasm may still be seen in the place where 
it happened, which is now called Villa de Rossano. 

My good man, what do you expect ? Do you imagine 
that by working on festivals you will improve your for 
tune ? You are mistaken. By your work you will only in 
crease your misery. There were two shoemakers; one of 
them lived in comfort with his family; the other, though 
he was always working, Sundays and week-days, was 
ever starving, and had nothing to give to his children. 
This man began once to complain of his misery, and 
said to the other, who always observed the festivals: 
" Friend, how do you contrive to live ? I work and toil 
unceasingly, and yet I am not able to provide food for 
my family." The other replied: "I have a friend to 
whom I go every morning he supplies me with what 
ever I want." The former rejoined: "Introduce me to 
your kind friend." The other promised to comply with 
his request, and brought him one morning to the church, 
where they heard Mass. On leaving the church the 
former said: "Where is the friend who provides for 
you?" The other answered: "Did you not see Jesus 
Christ on the altar? He is the friend who supports me." 
Thus my brethren, be assured that it is God alone, and 
not sin, that provides for us. He provides for all who 
observe his law, and not for those who despise it. 

It is right that all should know (many already know 
it) that in 1748 Benedict XIV. permitted the inhabitants 
of the kingdom of Naples and Sicily to work on all 
holidays, except on the Sundays and principal festivals; 
but did not exempt them from the obligation of hear 
ing Mass. The festivals on which they are not allowed 
to work are all Sundays, Christmas-day, the Circum- 

CHAP, in.] The Third Commandment. 425 

cision (that is, New Year s Day), the Epiphany, Ascen 
sion Day, Corpus Christi; the festivals of the Concep 
tion, Nativity, Annunciation, Purification, and Assump 
tion of the Most Holy Mary; the feasts of St. Peter and 
St. Paul, of All Saints, and of all the principal patrons 
of every city or town of the diocese. [In the United 
States: All Sundays in the year, the Circumcision of our 
Lord (January i), the Ascension of our Lord, the As 
sumption of the B. V. Mary (August 15), All Saints 
(November i), Immaculate Conception (December 8), 
Nativity of our Lord, or Christmas-day.] 


The Obligation of Hearing Mass, 
i. WHAT is MASS? 

It is the sacrifice which is offered to the divine Ma 
jesty of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, under the 
appearance of bread and wine. 


To satisfy the obligation of hearing Mass, two things 
are necessary: an intention and attention. 

1. It is necessary to- have an intention of hearing Mass, 
so that a man who is forced into church against his will, 
or who enters only to look about him and see the place, 
or to wait there for a friend, or for any other purpose 
except hearing Mass, does not fulfil the obligation. 
But, should a person hear Mass through devotion, be 
lieving that the day is not a holiday, is he bound, when 
he finds that it is a holiday, to hear another Mass? No; 
it is enough to have done the work commanded with 
out having adverted to the intention of fulfilling the 
precept of hearing Mass. 

2. It is necessary to hear Mass with attention that is, 
to attend to the sacrifice that is celebrated. This atten- 

426 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

tion may be external and internal. It is certain that a 
person who hears Mass without external attention does 
not fulfil his obligation; for example, if during the 
Mass you are asleep, or are drunk, or are employed in 
writing, talking, or other external operations, you do 
not fulfil the precept of hearing Mass. 

It is disputed among theologians whether a person 
who attends Mass without internal intention satisfies 
his obligation; that is, if he sees what is going on, but 
is at the same time interiorly distracted, and employed 
in thinking not on God, but on other things. Many 
theologians say that he is guilty of a venial, but not of 
a grievous sin, as often as he is voluntarily distracted, 
and that he fulfils the substance of the precept because 
he hears Mass with a moral presence. But the greater 
number of theologians, following St. Thomas, teach 
that such a person does not fulfil the obligation of 
hearing Mass, namely, when he is conscious that he is 
distracted, and not attending to the Mass, and positively 
wishes to continue in his distractions. 

Hence I exhort you, in hearing Mass, to reflect on the 
great sacrifice which is being offered. Meditate on the 
Passion of Jesus Christ; for the Mass is a renewal of 
the sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered on the cross. Or 
meditate on some eternal truth on death, judgment, 
or hell. Let him who knows how to read make use of 
some little book, or let him recite the office of the Blessed 
Virgin. Let those who cannot read, if they will not 
meditate, say the Rosary, or some other vocal prayers: 
let them, at least, attend to what the priest is doing. 

Does a person who makes his confession during Mass 
satisfy the obligation of hearing Mass? No; for then 
he would attend it as a criminal accusing himself of his 
sins, and not as a person offering sacrifice; and it is 
certain that all who hear Mass offer sacrifice along with 
the priest. 

CHAP, in.] TJic Third Commandment. 427 

Hence it would be advisable during Mass to offer the 
holy sacrifice for the ends for which it was instituted. 
The Mass was instituted, i. In order to honor God; 

2. To thank him; 3. To obtain the satisfaction for sin; 
4. To obtain the graces we stand in need of. 

During the Mass, then, we ought, first, to offer to 
God the sacrifice of his Son in honor of his divine 
Majesty; secondly, in thanksgiving for all the benefits 
we have received from him; thirdly, in satisfaction for 
our sins; and fourthly, to implore of God, through the 
merits of Jesus Christ, the graces necessary for our sal 
vation. At the elevation of the Host, let us ask God to 
pardon our sins, for the sake of Jesus Christ, and at the 
elevation of the chalice, let us beg of God, through the 
merits of that divine blood, the gift of his love and holy 
perseverance. And during the Communion of the priest, 
let us make a spiritual Communion, saying: My Jesus, 
I desire to receive Thee; I embrace Thee; do not permit 
me to be ever separated from Thee. 


There are several other things that must be noticed. 
First, he who is absent from a considerable part of the 
Mass is guilty of mortal sin. But what part of the Mass 
is to be regarded as considerable ? According to some 
theologians, a person who is present from the beginning 
of the Offertory, or of the secret prayer which the priest 
says after the Gospel, to the end of the Mass, is not. 
guilty of mortal sin; because, as St. Isidore writes, in 
ancient times the Mass began with the Offertory. How 
ever, the more probable and more common opinion is 
that it is a grievous sin to be absent from the beginning 
of the Mass to the end of the first Gospel. But it is 
commonly taught that a person who is absent from 
the beginning of the Mass to the Epistle, or during the 
part of the Mass that follows the Communion of the 

428 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

priest, does not sin mortally. I say that he who is not 
present at the Consecration, or at the Communion of 
the priest, does not satisfy the obligation of hearing 

In the second place, you take notice that Innocent 
XL condemned a proposition which asserted that the 
obligation of hearing Mass is fulfilled by being present 
at the half of two Masses celebrated at the same time 
by two different priests. But is the obligation fulfilled 
by a person who hears the half of two Masses succes 
sively that is, the half of a Mass celebrated by one 
priest, and another half of a Mass afterwards celebrated 
by a different priest ? Many theologians answer in the 
affirmative, provided the person is present at the Con 
secration and Communion of the same Mass. 


It must be remembered that a person satisfies his obli 
gation, who, in hearing Mass, remains in the choir be 
hind the high altar, or behind a wall or a pillar in the 
Church, or immediately outside the Church, though he 
does not see the priest, provided he is united with the 
people in the church, so that at any rate, from what they 
are doing, he may know what the priest is doing at the 

With respect to those who have oratories in their 
houses, only the following persons can satisfy the obli 
gation of hearing Mass there: i. The heads of the 
family to whom the privilege is granted ; 2. Their 
family, that is, their relatives and connections to the 
fourth degree, provided always they live in the same 
house, and at the expense of the privileged party, and 
provided that one of the privileged persons is present at 
the Mass ; 3. With regard to servants, it is only those 
that board in the house, and are required by the master 

1 Prop. 53. 

CHAP. HI.] The Third Commandment. 429 

during the Mass either to serve the priest, or to assist 
the master when he kneels or sits down, to read the 
meditation, or the like. [Only these persons can satisfy 
the obligation by hearing Mass in the oratory; the rest 
must go to the parish church ; but this usually applies 
only to Catholic countries.] 


1. A physical or moral impossibility is an excusing 
cause. A person is in a physical impossibility when he is 
confined to bed by sickness, when he is in prison, or 
when he is blind, and has no one to conduct him to the 

2. A person is in a moral impossibility of hearing Mass 
when he cannot go to the church without exposing him 
self to the danger of some grievous temporal or spiritual 

Hence the persons on guard in cities, or in armies, or 
entrusted with the care of herds of cattle, or of houses, 
or of infants, or of the sick, are exempt from the obliga 
tion of hearing Mass, when they have no person to take 
their place. 

Any grievous inconvenience is also an excusing cause; 
hence the sick who are. convalescent, and unable to go 
to the church without great pain, or danger of relapse, 
are excused from the obligation of hearing Mass. 

Also servants who cannot leave the house without 
grievous inconvenience to their master or to themselves, 
who, for example, if they left the house, would be in 
danger of being dismissed, and would scarcely be able 
to get employment from others. 

A notable distance from church (theologians say three 
miles) is a sufficient excuse; a less distance excuses from 
sin when it is raining or snowing, or when a person is 
infirm, or the road to the church is very bad. 

43O Instructions for the People. IPART i. 

In those places where it is prevalent, the custom of 
not leaving home for some time after childbirth, or after 
the death of a near relative, is a sufficient excuse for not 
hearing Mass. But some absent themselves from the 
church, and go to public places. .Such persons are not 
excused by the custom of the place from hearing Mass. 

Persons may sometimes be excused by want of clothes, 
or the means of appearing in church in a manner suited 
to their condition; but if there be a chapel in the neigh 
borhood in which Mass is celebrated at an early hour, 
they are bound to go there and hear Mass. 

My dear Christians, would that I could persuade you 
all to hear Mass every day ! Oh, how great a treasure 
is the Mass to all who hear it with devotion and piety ! 
Besides the indulgences which are granted for hearing 
Mass, great graces are obtained (Innocent VI. annexed 
an indulgence of more than three thousand years to each 
Mass that is heard). The fruits of the Passion of Jesus 
Christ are applied to every one that hears Mass ; for, as 
I have already said, each person who hears Mass offers 
sacrifice along with the priest, and offers to God, for 
himself and for others, the death and all the merits of 
the Saviour. 

Now see what great temporal and spiritual blessings 
are bestowed on those who hear Mass. Three merchants 
one day agreed to set out together from Gubbio. One 
of them wished to hear Mass before his departure ; but 
the others would not wait for him, and set out by them 
selves. But in passing over the river Corfuone, which 
had swelled to a great height in consequence of the 
rain that had fallen during the night, the bridge gave 
way, and they were drowned. The third, who had 
waited to hear Mass, found his .two companions dead 
on the bank of the river, and thankfully acknowledged 
the grace he had received on account of having heard 

CHAP, ni.j 77/6 Third Commandment. 431 

Listen to another fact still more appalling. It is re 
lated that in the court of a certain prince there was a 
page who was so devout that he never omitted to hear 
Mass every day. Another page, through envy, accused 
him to the prince, saying that he was too familiar with 
the princess, his wife. The prince was so enraged, that 
without further examination he gave orders to some 
iron-founders, who had care of a furnace, to throw into 
it the first of his pages that should go to the place, and 
immediately to make known to him the result. He then 
sent the page who had been accused to the place in 
which the furnace was. On his way the page heard the 
bell for Mass, and waited to be present at the holy sac 
rifice. Not hearing immediately what he expected from 
the persons employed at the furnace, the prince sent the 
other page to see what had happened. The miserable 
accuser, being the first that arrived, was cast into the 
furnace, and burned alive. The innocent page after 
ward appeared, and being reproved by the prince for 
not having promptly obeyed his order, said that he had 
stopped on his way to hear Mass. The prince began to 
suspect the accusation to be false, sought for better in 
formation, and discovered the innocence of the devout 


God has instituted festivals that we may honor him, 
and lay up merits for heaven, by going to the confra 
ternity, or to the church, to hear a sermon, to say the 
Rosary, to visit the Most Holy Sacrament, to recom 
mend ourselves to the Virgin Mary, or to our holy ad 

But how many are there who spend the festivals in 
dishonoring God, and gaining greater merits for hell? 
How do so many spend the holidays? In disputes and 

43 2 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

quarrels (how many murders are committed on fes 
tivals!); in making love, even in the church; in stand 
ing in a public place to indulge in bad thoughts, in im 
modest discourses with wicked companions, or in going 
to the tavern to gamble, to blaspheme, and to get drunk. 
The parish priest preaches, and some will not hear his 
Mass in order to avoid the trouble of hearing a sermon. 
Of what use, then, are holidays to such persons? They 
serve only to bury the soul deeper in hell by multiply 
ing sins. 

I have said that some, for the purpose of escaping the 
sermon, absent themselues from the church. St. John 
Chrysostom says that it would be better for some if they 
never entered the church ; because they commit greater 
sins by their irreverences than they would by not com 
ing at all. It would not be so criminal not to come at 
all to church, as it is to come in such a manner. Oh, 
what a horrible thing to see the irreverences which are 
committed nowadays in churches! And after all this, 
we hear of persons complaining of the rigor of the 
divine chastisements ! 

Many authors state that it was in punishment of ir 
reverences committed in the church that the kingdom 
of Cyprus was lost, and fell into the hands of the Turks 
Eugene Cistenius, who was ambassador of Ferdinand I. 
at the court of Soliman, relates that at the sepulchre of 
Mohammed the Turks neither speak, nor spit, nor cough, 
nor turn about to look at any object of curiosity; and in 
leaving the temple they walk backwards, in order to 
avoid turning their back to the sepulchre Compare 
this with the conduct of Christians in church ! They 
speak in a loud tone; they look about in every direction 
to gaze at the women, and see who is pretty and who is 
ugly ; they indulge in bad thoughts ; and some even 
have the temerity to come to the church to make love, 
without one thought of the reverence due to Jesus 

CHAP, in.] The Third Commandment. 433 

Christ in the Holy Sacrament. Ah, my God, how does 
it happen that the church does not fall upon such per 
sons? Why does not Jesus Christ depart from us, as he 
has done before now? 

Verme tells us that in a church where scandalous ir 
reverence was committed, a horrible voice was once 
heard at the elevation of the Host, pronouncing these 
words: "People, I depart hence." Then the Host was 
seen raised up to about the middle of the church, and 
the same words were again heard : " People, I depart 
hence." Then it gradually ascended as high as the 
roof, when the same words were heard for the third 
time: "People,! depart hence." The Host then van 
ished, and immediately the church fell, and the mise^ra- 
ble congregation was crushed beneath the ruins. Ah, 
brethren ! how can God bear with us when he sees that 
in order to offend him we go to the church in which he 
dispenses his graces to us ? 

Fasting on Vigils and during Lent. 

Before I conclude this precept of sanctifying holidays, 
I will explain briefly the fast which the holy Church 
commands us to observe on vigils in honor of the fes 
tivals which occur on the subsequent day, and in Lent, 
as a preparation for the celebration of Easter. [We 
must here include the fast of the Ember days, and add 
the abstinence that is to be observed on Fridays through 
out the year.] 


In the fast of the Church three things are commanded: 
i. To abstain from forbidden meats ; 2. To eat but one 
meal in the day; 3. Not to eat the meal before the hour 

434 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

With regard to the abstinence, the use of flesh-meat 
and of white-meats (milk food) is forbidden, except in 
places in which the custom exists of eating white-meat 
(milk food) and eggs. But this is to be understood only 
for vigils; for, with regard to Lent, it is certain that the 
use of white-meats is opposed to the condemnation of 
the thirty-second proposition by Alexander VII. Bene 
dict XIV. 1 has declared that a person who has obtained 
the permission of his physician and parish priest or con 
fessor, to eat flesh-meat during Lent, or on vigils of the 
saints, cannot take flesh-meat and fish at the one meal, 
but must abstain from fish if he eats flesh-meat, but not 
if he uses only white-meats (milk food). [See diocesan 
regulations as to fasting.] 

2. The second obligation of the fast is to eat but one 
meal in the day, and a small collation, which must not 
exceed eight ounces. Some persons eat at collation 
more ten, fifteen, or even twenty ounces: what a fast! 
" But, Father, I eat so that I am still hungry after eat 
ing." But this is not enough. In ancient times Chris 
tians ate only once a day in the evening; and except 
at that meal, they tasted nothing during the day. The 
Church afterwards permitted a collation, but not to ex 
ceed eight ounces. A person who notably exceeds the 
quantity allowed for collation is guilty of a mortal sin. 
However, young persons who have not attained the age 
of twenty-one, and the old who have completed their 
sixtieth year, and require to eat more frequently than 
once a day, are excused from the obligation of fasting. 
They also are excused who are employed in laborious 
business, such as laborers, weavers, masons, etc. Women 
who are pregnant, or who give suck, are exempt from 
the obligation of fasting, and also the poor, who at their 
one meal could not get sufficient food to support them 
during the day. 

1 Ail Arch. Compost. 8 Jul. 1744. 

CHAP, in.] The Third Commandment. 435 

3. The third obligation imposed by the law of fasting 
is, according to the present custom, not to take the meal 
before mid-day. Hence to dine an hour before mid-day 
on fast days is a mortal sin, as the generality of theo 
logians rightly maintain, in accordance with St. Thomas, 1 
who says that he who notably anticipates the hour pre 
scribed for the meal violates the fast. 

It is necessary also to remember that Benedict XIV., 
and still more clearly Clement XIII., 2 declared that per 
sons who have obtained permission to eat flesh-meats or 
white-meats (milk food) are obliged to take but the one 
meal in the day; and at their collation they can use no 
other food than that which is permitted to those who 
are bound to fast, and are not dispensed ; that is, at 
their collation they cannot use either flesh-meat or 

1 In 4 Sent. d. 15, q. 3, a. 4, sol. 3. 

2 Brev. Appetente, 20 Dec. 1759. 

43 6 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 



" Honor thy father and thy mother." ! 

THIS commandment principally regards the duty of 
children to their parents ; but it also comprehends the 
duty of parents to their children ; the mutual obliga 
tions of masters and servants, and of husband and wife. 

The Obligation of Children towards their Parents. 

A child is obliged to love, to respect, and to obey his 
parents. He is bound first to love them. 


He commits a mortal sin against this obligation of 
love : 

1. If he desires any. grievous evil to his father or 
mother ; and in this he is guilty of a double sin : he 
sins against charity and against the filial piety due to a 

2. He sins if he detracts from the reputation of his 
1 arents ; and he then commits three sins, one against 
charity, another against filial piety, and the third against 

3. He is guilty of sin if he neglects to assist his 
parents, as well in their temporal as in their spirit- 

1 " Honora patrem tuum et matrem tuam, ut sis longaevus super ter- 
ram quam Dominus Deus tuus dabit tibi." Exod. xx. 12. 

CHAP, iv.i The Fourth Commandment. 437 

ual necessities; thus, if a parent is dangerously ill, his 
children are bound to admonish him of his danger, 
and to induce him to receive the last sacraments. A 
child is obliged to support a father or mother when 
they are in great want. Son, says Ecclesiasticus, sup 
port the old age of thy father. 1 Our parents have pro 
vided for us in our childhood; it is but just that we 
support them in their old age. St. Ambrose 2 says that 
the stork supplies its parents with food when it sees 
them old and unable to provide for their wants. How 
horrible the ingratitude of the son who, though he 
knows that his mother is dying of hunger, squanders 
away his money in the tavern ! 

It is wonderful what love has been shown by children 
to their parents. In Japan, in 1604, there were three 
brothers, laborers, who had to support their mother, 
but with all their efforts they could not give enough. 
What then had they to do ? It so happened that the 
emperor had issued an edict promising a large reward 
to any one who should bring a thief to justice. The 
brothers, therefore, agreed among themselves that one 
should pretend to be a thief, and that the other two 
should bring him to prison, and so support their mother 
with the reward they would obtain. They then cast 
lots which of them was to die for death was in that 
country the punishment of theft; the lot fell on the 
youngest, who was bound and taken to prison; but 
when his two brothers left him there it was observed 
that they embraced him with tears. When this was 
told to the judge he ordered the other two to be fol 
lowed to their home. On their arrival there the mother 
was told what had been done; but she said that she 
would rather die than that her son should die for her 
sake. " Take back the money," she said, " and restore 

1 " Fili, suscipe senectam patris tui." Ecclus. iii. 14. 

2 Exam. 1. 5, c. 16. 

43 8 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

me my son." When the judge heard of this he ac 
quainted the emperor with it, who so admired their 
filial piety that he settled a large pension on the three 
brothers. Thus did God reward their love and affec 
tion to their mother. 

But now listen, on the other hand, to the chastisement 
that God inflicted on an ungrateful child. Bishop 
Abelly 1 mentions a fact related by Thomas Cantipra- 
tensis, which occurred in his own time. There was a 
rich man in France who had an only son whom he wished 
to marry to a person far superior to him in rank. The 
parents of the lady consented to the marriage on the 
condition that the father of the young man would trans 
fer all his property to the son, and depend on him for 
his support. The father consented. In the beginning 
he was treated with great kindness; but after some 
time, in order to please his wife, the son banished him 
from his house, and gave him but little assistance. The 
father came to ask relief one day when his son had pre 
pared a great banquet for his friends, but his son drove 
him away with harshness and disrespect. He was, how 
ever, soon punished, for as soon as he had sat down to 
table a toad flew on his face which no skill could re 
move. Then he began to repent of the ingratitude with 
which he had treated his father, and went to the bishop 
to receive absolution. The bishop enjoined as a pen 
ance that he should go through all the provinces of the 
kingdom with his face uncovered, confessing his sins, as 
an example for other children. Cantipratensis states 
that the fact was related to him by a Father of the Order 
of St. Dominic, who had seen the unhappy man in Paris 
with his face horribly disfigured, and had heard the cir 
cumstances from him. 2 

1 Verite s princ. instr. 28. 

52 The author quoted, adds that this repentant sinner having faithfully 
done the penance and repaired his fault, the toad disappeared. ED. 

CHAP, iv.] The Fourth Commandment. 439 

Be careful, then, O children! to love your parents, 
and to assist them when they are in poverty, in sick 
ness, or in prison. If you do not, you must expect to 
receive great chastisement from God. At the very least, 
he will permit your children to treat you as you have 
treated your parents. Verme relates that a son had 
banished his father from his house; the father fell sick 
and went to the hospital, and sent to his son for a pair 
of sheets. The son sent them to him by one of his own 
children. The child took only one of them to his grand 
father; and when his father asked him why he had not 
taken both, he answered, I have kept the other for you 
when you go to the hospital. You see, then, as you 
treat your parents so your children will treat you. 



In the second place, a child is obliged to show respect 
to his father and mother. Honor thy father in work, and 
word, and all patience? says God. It is, then, the duty of 
a child to honor his father in work and word. 

Hence it is a sin to reply to parents in a tone of re 
sentment, or in a loud, disrespectful tone of voice. It 
is a greater sin to deride them, to mock them, to utter 
imprecations against them, to insult them by calling 
them fools, beasts, robbers, drunkards, sorcerers, miscreants, 
or any such opprobrious names. Words of this kind, 
when uttered in their presence, are mortal sins. In the 
Old Law, they who injured their father or mother were 
condemned to death. He that cursed his father or mother 
shall die the death? At present they are not punished 
with temporal death, but they are accursed by God and 

1 In opere et sermone, et omni patientia, honora patrem tuum." 
Ecclus. iii. 9. 

" Qui maledixerit patri suo vel matri, morte moriatur." Exod. 
xxi. 17. 

440 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

condemned to eternal death. He is cursed of God that 
angereth his mother. 1 

It would be a still greater sin to raise the hand, or to 
threaten, as though you were going to strike a parent. 
Few shall be your days, you who have struck your 
mother. For the Scripture says, Honor thy father and 
thy mother, that thou mayest live a long time, and that it may 
be well with thee in the land? If, then, he that honors his 
parents shall have a long life, and comfort in this world, 
surely the child that maltreats a father or mother shall 
live but a short time, and shall live in misery. 

St. Bernardine of Siena 3 relates that a young man who 
had died on the gibbet appeared to have \he hoary 
beard of old age. It was revealed to the bishop, while 
praying for his soul, that if, in punishment of his dis 
obedience to his parents, God had not abandoned him 
to the crimes which brought him to a shameful death, 
he should have lived to a great age. 

St. Augustine 4 tells us of a still more terrible case. 
In the province of Cappadocia there was a mother who 
had a great number of children. One day her eldest 
son first insulted her and then beat her. The other 
children did not interfere with their brother as they 
ought to have done. The mother was enraged at this 
conduct, and committed another sin; she went to the 
church, and, before the baptistery in which her children 
had been baptized, she cursed them all, begging of God 
to inflict on them a chastisement that would excite the 
terror of the whole world. All her children, accord 
ingly, were seized with great tremor in all their limbs. 
They were afterwards dispersed in different places^ 

" Et est maledictus a Deo, qui exasperat matrem." Ecdus. iii. 18. 
"Honora patrem tuum et matrem, . . . ut longo vivas tempore^ 
et bene sit tibi in terra. "Deut. \. 16. 

3 T. 2, s. 17, a. 3, c. i. 

4 De Civ. D. 1. 22, c. S. 

CHAP, iv.j The Fourth Commandment. 441 

carrying with them the marks of their mother s maledic 
tion; and she, grieving at the scourge that had fallen on 
her children, yielded to despair, and strangled herself. 
St. Augustine adds that while he was one day in a 
church which contained the relics of St. Stephen, two of 
these young men came in trembling to such a degree 
that every one took notice of them, but through the in 
tercession of St. Stephen they were restored to health 
before the relics of the saint. 

I will give another example. A young man was bar 
barously dragging his father by the feet along the road. 
When they had reached a certain place the father said: 
" Have done, my son; no farther: for I once dragged my 
father thus far; and in punishment of my sin God has 
justly permitted me to be dragged here by you." 

children, have you heard how God punishes those 
who maltreat their parents ? You will perhaps say: " I 
have a father and a mother who are unendurable." But 
attend to what God says: Son, support the old age of thy 
father, and grieve him not in his life. 1 "Son," says the 
Lord, "do you not see that your father is a poor old 
man, afflicted with the evils of old age ? You must not 
grieve him in the few remaining years of his life." The 
Scriptu re adds : And if his understanding fail, have patience 
with him, and despise him not when thou art in thy strength: 1 
The aged sometimes appear to be unreasonable; but it 
is in bearing with their fits of impatience that the virtue 
of children consists. 


In the third place, a child owes obedience to a parent 
in all things that are just. Children, says St. Paul, obey 

1 " Fill, suscipe senectam patris tui, et non contristes eum in vita 
illius." Eidus. iii. 14. 

2 " Et si dcfecerit sensu, veniam da, ct ne spernas eum in virtute 
tua." Ibid. iii. 15. 

44 2 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

your parents in the Lord. 1 Hence, a child is bound to 
obey his parents in what concerns the service of the 
family, and particularly in all that regards morals for 
instance, when they command him not to play or asso 
ciate with low companions, or to enter a suspected 
house, and if he disobeys he is guilty of sin. 

Theophilus Rainaud relates that on the borders of 
France and Savoy there was a young nobleman who 
was disobedient to his widowed mother; for though 
she had over and over again commanded him to come 
home before dusk, and not to stay out till midnight, as 
was his habit, he still persisted in doing so. So one 
night she ordered the door to be locked. When he 
came and found it closed against him, and could not 
make himself heard, call as loud as he would, he began 
to curse and reproach his mother, and then, along with 
his brother and a servant, who were with him, he took 
shelter in a neighboring house. After going to rest the 
brother and servant heard a frightful noise, and saw a 
hideous giant entering the room in which the young 
man lay. The giant took him by the feet, stretched 
him on a table, and cut him in pieces with a sabre, and 
then gave him to be devoured by four horrible dogs. 
The brother and servant afterwards made search for his 
body, but could not find it. The brother was so terri 
fied that he became a Carthusian, and after a holy life 
died a holy death. 

This is how God chastises children who are diso 
bedient to their parents. But I must say one word on 
the text of St. Paul, already quoted: Children, obey your 
parents in the Lord? Mark the words in the Lord. They 
mean that we should obey parents in all things that are 
pleasing to God, but not in what is offensive to him. 
If, for example, a mother commanded a child to commit 

" Filii, obedite parentibus vestris in Domino." Eph. vi. i. 
" Obedite parentibus vestris in Domino." Eph. vi. I 

CHAP, iv.i The Fourth Commandment. 443 

theft, or to strike a person, is he obliged to obey her? 
Not at all he sins if he does obey. Thus, also, in 
choosing a state of life, whether to be married or to 
remain single, to become a priest or a religious, a son, 
according to St. Thomas, 1 and all theologians, is not 
bound to obey his parents. However, a son who con 
tracts a marriage that brings dishonor on the family is 
guilty of sin. With regard to entering religion, if your 
parents are poor and in great necessity, and if you can 
by your industry relieve them, it is not lawful for you 
to abandon them and become a religious. But, on the 
other hand, fathers or mothers who oblige their children 
to become priests or monks commit a mortal sin; and 
if they force their daughters to become nuns, or to enter 
a monastery, they incur excommunication, according to 
the Council of Trent. 2 

Parents are guilty of sin if they force a child to marry 
who wishes to lead a life of celibacy, or if they hinder a 
child from entering a religious Order. Some parents 
make no scruple of turning away children from their 
vocation; but they ought to know that it is a mortal 
sin to do so. We are to be saved according to the 
vocation God gives us; and, therefore, the child, if he 
enter the religious Order to which God calls him, will 
be saved; but if, at the instigation of his father or 
mother, he remain in the world, he will lead a wicked 
life, and be damned. But some parents care not whether 
a child is damned or not, provided he remains in the 
family. u Such fathers," says St. Bernard, " should not 
be called fathers, but murderers of their children." 5 
But God will chastise them severely, not only in the 
next, but also in this world; he will make the very 
child whom they diverted from his vocation the in- 

1 2. 2, q. 104, a. 5. 

4 Sess. xxv. c. 13. 

3 " Non parentes, sed peremptores." Epist. iii. 

444 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

strument of their chastisement; for, having lost his 
vocation, he will abandon himself to vice, and bring 
ruin on the family. Oh, how many families have been 
ruined on account of parents making children give up 
their vocation ! I will give you an instance. 

In his exposition of the 4th and 25th psalms, Father 
Alexander Faia, of the Society of Jesus, relates that at 
Tudela, in Spain, in Old Castile, a very rich man had an 
only son, whom he had destined to perpetuate the fam 
ily. But the son, having a vocation for the Society of 
Jesus, sought admission with so much earnestness that 
the Superiors at last received him. When his father 
heard of this, he went to the novitiate and made so 
many complaints, that to please him the son went home 
again. But he felt himself again called to forsake the 
world. Being unwilling to return to the Society, he 
entered into the Order of St. Francis. But the father 
induced him a second time to renounce the religious 
state. Soon afterward it happened that the old man 
wanted his son to marry a person he had fixed upon; 
but his son had selected another lady. This gave rise 
to so many altercations, and even hatred, that one day, 
in a quarrel, the son killed his father. For this he was 
taken, tried, and hanged. 

Fathers and mothers, take care not to interfere with 
the vocation of your sons or daughters: do not hinder 
them from giving themselves to God. What greater 
source of consolation can a father or mother have than 
to see a son or a daughter consecrated to God, and 
leading the life of a saint ? The mother of St. Aloysius 
Gonzaga, who was the Marchioness of Castiglione, see 
ing him called to the Society of Jesus, endeavored, 
though he was her eldest and only son, to facilitate his 
entrance into religion. This is the real duty of parents, 
to help and induce their children to become saints. 
And should your parents even endeavor to prevent you 

CHAP, iv.] The Fourth Commandment. 445 

from entering a more perfect state, where you could 
serve God better, do as Theodore, a young man men 
tioned in the life of St. Pachomius, did. He was an 
Egyptian, an only son, and heir to large possessions. 
On a certain festival he prepared a great banquet: on 
that day God made him feel that all his riches would 
profit him nothing at the hour of his death. That very 
day he shut himself up in his chamber, and besought 
the Lord, with many tears, to make known to him the 
state that he ought to choose in order to secure his 
eternal salvation. God inspired him to go to the 
monastery of Pachomius. He forsook all things, and 
fled from his family. His mother went to St. Pachomius 
with an order from the emperor to restore her son; but 
Theodore prayed to God with so much fervor that he 
obtained also for his mother the grace to leave the 
world, and retire into a convent of nuns. 

Obligation of Parents towards their Children. 

There are two principal obligations of parents towards 
their children to provide food for them, and to give 
them a religious education. 


A father is bound to give sustenance to his children, 
though they are disorderly, though they have squan 
dered away their portion, and though they have con 
tracted an unsuitable marriage. And why ? Because 
they are still his children. Therefore, a father is guilty 
of sin if, without a just cause, he banishes a son from 
his house, or if at death he deprives a child of his legiti 
mate portion, or if he refuses a dowry to a daughter 
who wishes to marry a person suited to her condition. 
But what are we to say to those inhuman fathers who 

446 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

squander their money in eating and gaming in the 
tavern, and leave their poor children in want of bread? 
The most savage beasts are careful to provide food for 
their offspring. Men alone are brutal enough to suffer 
their children to die of hunger ! 

We may here remark, that brothers also, when they 
are able, are bound to provide for their brothers, and 
give a dowry to their sisters, when in great distress. 
This is the common opinion of theologians. 



With regard to education, it is certain that the good 
or ill success of children depends on the good or bad 
education that they receive from their parents. God 
has instituted matrimony, that, with the direction and 
instruction of their parents, children may come to serve 
God, and be saved ; otherwise they would be mere out 
casts, if they had no one to tell them what to do, nor to 
correct and chastise them if they neglected to correct 
their vices and improve their lives; for it often happens 
that, when admonition fails, the fear of punishment is 

We see, by experience, that holy parents bring up holy 
children. St. Catharine of Sweden, because she was the 
daughter of St. Bridget, became a saint. St. Henry the 
Emperor became a saint because he was the son of St. 
Stephen, King of Hungary. Queen Blanche, the mother 
of St. Louis, King of France, was a great servant of God, 
and thus he became a saint. This good mother used to 
say to her son in his childhood, " My son, I would rather 
see you dead in your coffin than guilty of mortal sin." 
I remember another good mother, whose great care was 
the sanctification of her children. She would say, " I 
do not want to be the mother of children damned in 

CHAP, iv.] The Fourth Commandment. 447 

But, on the other hand, there are fathers and mothers 
who care not whether their children are virtuous or 
wicked whether they are saved or damned. Origen 
has justly said, that parents shall have to answer for all 
the vices of their children. It is unquestionably the fact 
that, ordinarily, parents are the cause of the sins of their 
children, though the children will have to answer for 
their own faults. Some fathers and mothers, through 
fear of displeasing a child, neglect to reprove and chas 
tise him, and are thus the cause of his ruin. Barbarous 
and cruel fathers and mothers ! Tell me now, if a father 
saw his child fall into the water and, though the child 
might easily be saved by dragging him out by the hair, 
were to let him be drowned for fear of hurting him by 
pulling his hair, would you not call that father cruel and 
unfeeling? Far more cruel is. the father who, through 
fear of giving them pain, neglects to correct or chastise 
his children for their faults. Would it not be cruelty in 
a father to give to an inexperienced child a razor with 
which he might inflict on himself a deadly wound ? 
Much more cruel is the father who gives money to his 
children to spend on their appetites, or who permits 
them to associate with bad companions, or to frequent 
a dangerous house; for the greatest concern of parents 
should be to remove their children from the occasions 
of sin. 

When admonition or correction is not sufficient, it is 
necessary to inflict corporal chastisement, especially 
while the children are young; for when they are grown 
up, it is impossible to restrain them. He that spareth the 
rod hateth his son. 1 Parents hate the child whom they 
neglect to chastise when he stands in need of chastise 
ment, and they shall be chastised by the Lord. In pun 
ishment of not having chastised his children as he ought, 

1 " Qui parcit virgre, odit filium suum ; qui autem diligit ilium, in- 
tanter erudit." Pro-v. xiii. 24. 

448 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

the high-priest Heli and his sons all perished together 
in one day, by the judgment of God, as we read in the 
Scriptures. 1 

But a parent must chastise his children in moderation, 
not in passion, as some fathers and mothers do; such chas 
tisement produces no fruit; on the contrary, it makes 
children more perverse. First, they should admonish, 
then threaten, and in the end chastise; but always with 
the tenderness of a parent, and not with the harshness of 
a galley-sergeant; with discretion, and without impreca 
tions or offensive words. It will be sufficient to shut 
them up in a room, to diminish their food, to forbid 
them to wear their best clothes, and, when necessary, to 
use the rod, but not a thick stick. Do not, therefore, 
touch your children while your passion continues. First 
allow your anger to cool, and then calmly inflict chas 



1. Parents, then, are guilty of sin against the duty of 
educating their children, if they do not instruct them in 
matters of faith, and in what regards their eternal salva 
tion. They ought at least to send them on Sundays to 
the parish church to learn the Christian doctrine, and 
not send them on errands, as some do. So their chil 
dren grow up without knowing how to make their con 
fession, and are even ignorant of the principal articles 
of faith ; they know not what is meant by the Trinity, 
by the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, by mortal sin, judg 
ment, hell, heaven, or eternity; and through their igno 
rance they are damned. But their parents will have to 
account to God for them. 

2. A parent violates his duty towards his children, if he 
does not correct them when they are guilty of blas- 

1 i Kings, ii. 4. 

CHAP, iv.] The Fourth Commandment. 449 

pheming, of stealing, or of uttering obscene words, or if 
he neglects to chastise them when chastisement is neces 
sary; and parents are bound to inquire what kind of 
life their children lead, what places they frequent, and 
with what sort of persons they associate when they leave 
home. This is a duty of every parent. I should like to 
know, then, how is it possible to excuse mothers who 
allow their daughters to keep company with persons in 
love with them ? They desire to see their daughters 
married, but they do not care whether they commit sin. 
These are the mothers of whom David speaks, who, for 
the interest of the family, immolate their daughters to 
the devil. And they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to 
devils. Some mothers bring young men into the house 
to amuse themselves with their daughters, that they 
may be under an obligation of marrying them, and that 
they may be bound with the chain of sin. But do not 
such mothers see that for every sin that these lovers 
commit they themselves are bound by a new chain of 
hell ? " Father," they say, " there is no harm in it." Is 
there no evil in it ? Do you expect that tow thrown into 
the fire will not burn ? Oh, how many mothers shall we 
see condemned on the day of judgment for seeking to 
hasten the marriage of their daughters by such means as 

3. Parents are guilty of sin if they neglect to make 
their children receive the sacraments at the proper time, 
or to make them observe the festivals and precepts of 
the Church. 

4. They commit a sin (and this is a double sin) if they 
give scandal to their children by blaspheming, or by 
speaking immodestly, or by committing any other scan 
dalous sin in their presence; for a father is bound to 
give good example to his children, who, like young 
monkeys, imitate whatever they see, but with this differ- 

" Immolaverunt filios suos et filias suas dfcmoniis." Ps. cv. 37. 

450 Instructions for the People. [PART i, 

ence, that they more readily imitate bad actions to 
which our corrupt nature is inclined, than examples of 
virtue, to which nature has a repugnance. How can 
children begin to lead a life of virtue when they hear 
their father blaspheming, talking scandal, and insulting 
his neighbor, uttering imprecations, expressions of re 
venge and obscenity, and indicating his diabolical max 
ims: You must not submit to maltreatment from any 
one. God is merciful: there are some sins that he toler 
ates. Mothers say to their daughters, " You must talk, 
and not be so stiff and unyielding." What virtue can be 
expected from children who know that their father spends 
the whole day in the public-house, and comes home 
drunk; that he frequents a house of ill-fame, that he goes 
to confession only at Easter, or perhaps not even then? 
St. Thomas says, that such parents, as much as in them 
lies, oblige their children to commit sin. Hence arises 
the ruin of so many souls that are damned; because 
children take bad example from their parents, and 
afterwards give bad example to their children: and 
thus fathers, children, and grandchildren all go to hell. 
Some parents complain that their children are vicious. 
Do men, says Jesus Christ, gather grapes off thorns ? 2 Did 
you ever see grapes gathered from thorns ? How, then, 
can the children be virtuous when the parents are 
vicious ? It would be a miracle if they were. 

Hence we see that a father who leads a bad life never 
corrects the vices of his children. For, after giving bad 
example to his children, he is ashamed to reprove them 
for the sins that he himself commits. And if he ever 
does correct them, the children disregard his admoni 
tions. Did you ever hear of the crab that saw his little 
ones walking sideways, and at once scolded them, and 

1 " Eos ad peccatum, quantum in eis fuit, obligaverunt." In Ps. 

2 " Numquid colligunt de spinis uvas ?" -Matt. viii. 16. 

CHAP, iv.] The Fourth Commandment. 45 1 

said: "Why do you walk sideways like that?" They 
replied: " Father, let us see how you walk." The father 
walked more crookedly than they did, and therefore he 
never dared to rebuke them after. It is the same with 
the parent who gives bad example. He is ashamed to 
correct the faults of his children. He sees them run 
ning to the precipice, and remains silent, because he has 
not courage to censure what he himself does. But it is 
certain that a parent who does not correct the faults of 
his children is guilty of sin. What, then, must a parent 
who scandalizes his children do ? St. Thomas says, that 
he should at least entreat his children not to imitate his 
bad example. But of what use, I ask, is this ignominious 
reproof, if the father continues to give bad example? 
The truth is, that when a parent gives bad example, 
neither corrections nor entreaties nor chastisements pro 
duce any fruit; all is lost. 


A father who desires to regulate his family well 
should endeavor first to remove from his house all evil, 
and afterwards to promote virtue. What I say of 
fathers is intended also for mothers 

I. With regard to removing evil. 

1. A father must prevent his children from associating 
with bad company, or with ill-conducted servants, or 
with a master who does not give a good example. 

2. He must remove from his house any male or female 
servant that may be a source of temptation to his 
daughters or sons. Virtuous parents do not admit 
into their house young female servants when their sons 
are grown up. 

3. He should banish from his house all books that 
treat on obscene subjects, or on profane love, romances, 
and all similar works; such books are the ruin of inno 
cent young persons. Videumaun tells us of a young 

452 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

man who was an example to all his fellow-citizens. He 
accidentally read an obscene book, and fell into such 
horrid crimes that he became the scandal of the entire 
people. His conduct was so scandalous that the magis 
trates were obliged to banish him from the city. Another 
young man, who had failed in his efforts to seduce a 
woman, put a book in her way that treated on love, and 
thus he made her lose her honor and her soul. A parent 
is still more strictly bound to remove the class of books 
that has now become so common, which, besides the 
other poison, contains also errors against faith or against 
the Church. 

4. He is bound to remove from his house immodest 
pictures, particularly if they are obscene. Father Rho 
tells us that Cardinal Bellarmine went into a private 
gentleman s house, where he happened to see some 
immodest pictures; so he said to him: "My friend, I 
am come to entreat you for God s sake to do a work of 
charity in clothing the naked." The gentleman prom 
ised to do so; so the Cardinal pointed to the picture, 
saying- "There are the naked people I mean." Oh, 
how delighted is the devil when he sees in any house an 
immodest picture ! It is related in the life of Father 
John Baptist Vitelli that a troop of devils was once 
seen in the hall of a certain nobleman offering incense 
to an immodest picture that hung there, in return for the 
souls which they gained by it. 

5. A parent should forbid his children to frequent 
masquerades or public dancing-houses, or to act a part 
in comedies. He should not allow his daughters to be 
taught by any strange man. Oh, how dangerous is it 
for young women to receive instructions from men! In 
stead of learning to read, they learn to commit mortal 
sins. A parent should get his daughters instructed by 
a woman, or by a little brother; I say little } for even in a 
brother, when he is grown up, there is some danger. 

CHAP, iv.] The Foiirtk Commandment. 453 

Parents must be very particular never to allow their 
sons and daughters to sleep in the same bed, and much 
less in the same bed with their father and mother. They 
should also take care not to permit their daughters to 
converse alone and familiarly with any man, though he 
be the first saint in the world. The saints in heaven 
only are incapable of falling; but the saints on earth 
are flesh like others, and if they do not avoid the occa 
sions of sin, may become devils. Hence, a father will 
do well to recommend the most virtuous and steady of 
his daughters to let him know secretly whenever she 
sees any of her sisters keep up such familiarity, or when 
she sees any other disorder in the family. 
II. With regard to the advancement of piety. 

1. A father should make all the members of the family 
ask of God every morning the grace not to offend him 
during the day. For this purpose they may say three 
"Hail Marys " to the Mother of God. The best thing 
would be to have half an hour s meditation in common 
for all the members of the house, and to make one of 
them read aloud the points for consideration, as is done 
in many families. 

2. A parent should make his children receive the 
sacraments at the proper time; that is, the sacrament of 
confession at the age of seven, and that of Communion 
at the age of ten, as St. Charles Borromeo ordered; he 
should also make them receive the sacrament of con 
firmation at the latter age. Let him make them go 
afterwards to confession and Communion at least every 
fifteen days; but he must not force nor oblige them to 
go to a fixed confessor, lest they might be guilty of 
sacrilege. To make children fulfil strict duties, it will 
be very useful to accustom them to do things that are 
not obligatory; such as to fast on Saturdays, to say the 
Rosary and Litany of the Blessed Virgin every day, to 
make an examination of conscience at night ; to make 

454 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

acts of faith, hope, and charity; to visit the Most Holy 
Sacrament; to make a novena before the seven festi 
vals * of the Blessed Virgin. For the same reason he 
should send his children to sermons, to the Exposition 
of the Most Holy Sacrament, and to other devotions 
that are performed in the church. Bow down their neck 
from their childhood, 1 says the Holy Ghost. St. Louis, 
King of France, whenever he was beginning anything, 
used to sign himself with the sign of the cross, and say: 
" Thus my mother taught me when I was a child." Oh, 
that all parents would endeavor to bring up their chil 
dren in such habits! But the misfortune is, that they 
are more careful to provide for the temporal than for 
the spiritual welfare of their children, who thus lose 

3. A parent should often try to instil Christian maxims 
into the minds of his children, and inculcate the neces 
sity of avoiding bad company and dangerous occasions; 
of conforming to the will of God; and of patience under 
crosses and contradictions. Let him place before their 
eyes the unhappy state of those who live in sin; the im 
portance of salvation; the vanity of the world; the hour 
of death, which puts an end to all earthly pains and 
pleasures; the necessity of recommending themselves to 
God in time of temptations; and the advantages and 
efficacy of devotion to the Virgin Mary. These maxims 
make a deep impression on the tender minds of chil 
dren; they begin to practise them, and thus they perse 
vere in virtue all their life. 

J " Curva illos a pueritia illorum." Ecclus. vii. 25. 

* These festivals in the order of the calendar are: The Purification, 
Annunciation, Visitation, Assumption, Nativity, Presentation, and Im 
maculate Conception. 

CHAP, iv.] 77ie Fo^trtk Commandment. 455 


The Obligation of Masters, Servants, and Married Persons. 


A master is guilty of sin 

1. If he hinders his servants from observing the holi 
days by obliging them to work, or by not allowing them 
time to hear Mass. On the other hand, he is obliged to 
see that his servants make the paschal Communion, and 
fulfil the other obligations of a Christian. 

2. A master is guilty of sin if he does not correct his 
servants when they offend God by blasphemies, by ob 
scene words, by scandalous acts, and the like. 

3. He commits a sin if he refuses or defers the pay 
ment of the wages that he promised. 


A servant is guilty of sin 

1. If he fails in the performance of the work for which 
he was hired, or if he does not obey his master as he 

2. If he permits any injury to his master, when he can, 
without inconvenience, prevent it. Indeed when such 
injury is not done by his fellow-servants, but by a 
stranger, if he does not prevent it, he is bound to make 

3. A servant is guilty of sin-if he leaves his master be 
fore the expiration of the time for which he was en 

4. He is guilty of sin if he takes occult compensation 
for services which he judges to be deserving of more 
wages than his master agreed to give him ; for the fol 
lowing proposition was condemned by Innocent XI. 
" Men and women servants can secretly abstract from 
their masters sufficient to remunerate them for services 

45 6 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

which they judge to be worth more than the wages they 
receive." This proposition is condemned as false. 

5. A servant is guilty of sin if he co-operates in the 
sin of his master, even against his will. He can be ex 
cused only in some cases, when, by refusing to obey, he 
would suffer a great loss, and when his co-operation is 
not in itself intrinsically bad. 


With regard to married persons, the husband com 
mits sin 

1. If through his fault he leaves his wife in want of 
food or clothes. 

2. If he maltreats her by beating her, slapping her 
face, or calling her insulting names. The wife is a com 
panion, not a slave. Before marriage, some husbands 
make great promises: "You shall be the mistress of the 
house, mistress of me." And after the lapse of a few 
months, they treat their wives as slaves. "What! can I 
not chastise my wife when she is guilty of misconduct ?" 
Yes; if there is a just cause (particularly if your wife 
fails in chastity), and if, after being corrected several 
times, she does not amend, you can chastise her, but 
with moderation. But it is not lawful to beat your wife 
for trifling defects, such as for saying a word in anger, 
or for disobedience in a matter of little importance. 

3. A husband is guilty of sin if he hinder his wife from 
fulfilling her obligations. as a Christian, hearing Mass, 
making her Easter Communion, and going to confes 
sion several times in the year; for a person in the world 
can scarcely preserve himself in the grace of God by 
going to confession only once in the year. "But, 
Father, she wants to go to confession and Communion 

" Famuli et famulae domesticse possunt occulte heris suis surripere, 
ad compensandam operam suam, quam majorem judicant salario quod 
recipiunt. " Prop. 37. 

CHAR iv.i The Fourth Commandment. 457 

every day." I answer, if, by frequenting the sacra 
ments, she neglects the care of the family, you can then 
forbid her to go so often to confession and Communion; 
but it is not lawful for you to interfere, unless she fails 
in the good government of the house, or unless some 
other inconvenience arises from her frequenting the 


A wife commits sin 

1. If she is not obedient to her husband in those 
things in which she is bound to obey him, and particu 
larly in the matrimonial dues; and let wives remember 
that, as often as they disobey, they are guilty of a mor 
tal sin. 

2. A wife commits sin if, of the goods that are com 
mon, she spends, against her husband s will, more than 
her equals usually spend ; for of these goods the hus 
band, and not she, is the master. She can only spend 
what is necessary for the family, when the husband 
neglects to make provision. 

3. She commits sin if she unjustly refuses to go with 
her husband to any place in which he wishes to live; for 
a wife is bound to accompany her husband wherever he 
goes, unless at their espousal an agreement was made to 
the contrary, or unless by accompanying him she would 
suffer serious damage, or be exposed to great danger. 

4. She commits sin, when, by angry answers, she gives 
occasion to her husband to blaspheme. Certain wives 
complain that their husbands beat them continually; 
but when you see your husband in a passion, why do 
you provoke him still more? why do you not remain 
silent? Do you know the fable of the oak and the bul 
rush ? An oak and a bulrush were growing in the same 
place ; a furious storm sprung up ; the oak would not 
bend, and so was broken to pieces; the bulrush bent its 

45 8 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

head, and let the storm pass over it, and so received no 
injury. Do you understand what I mean? Be silent 
when you see your husband in a fury; allow the storm 
of his indignation to go down by itself, and you will not 
be beaten. This is precisely what happened to a woman 
who was always complaining of being beaten by her hus 
band. An honest man said to her: "I will give you 
some water: if you keep it in your mouth when your 
husband is in a passion, he will maltreat you no more," 
He gave her the water: she kept it in her mouth the 
first time she saw her husband in a rage, and he left her 
in peace. She afterwards asked the man who gave her 
the water where he had got it. He answered: " It is to 
be had in every well; be silent hereafter when your hus 
band is angry, and you will receive no more maltreat 
ment from him." 

St. Augustine says that St. Monica, his mother, always 
lived in great peace with her husband, though he was 
hard to be pleased, and prone to anger. Her neighbors, 
who had frequent quarrels with their husbands, asked 
her one day how she managed to live in such peace with 
her husband. She said, in reply: "Sisters, the disputes 
that you have with your husbands do not arise from 
their imperfections so much as from yours. You an 
swer and rejoin, and fhus exasperate their minds ; and 
so you are always in trouble. When I see my husband 
in a passion I do not speak ; I bear with him, and pray 
to God for him ; and thus I live in peace. Do you the 
same, and you too shall have peace." 

CHAP, v.] The Fifth Commandment. 459 



" Thou shalt not kill." 

GOD forbids us to do any injury to a neighbor in his 
person, in his property, or in his reputation. Of the in 
juries done to property or character we shall speak in 
treating the seventh and eighth commandments. Here 
we will speak only of the injuries done to his person. 


This commandment principally forbids us to kill any 
man, or to injure his person by wounding or striking 

The vindictive man says : " I will have your life." 
Life! Have you dominion over a neighbor s life? God 
alone is the Lord of our life. It is Thou, O Lord, that 
hast power of life and death" Oh, how hateful to God is 
the bloodthirsty man; even in this life God punishes 
them who shed blood. David says that they shall not 
live half the time that God would have given them had 
they not indulged in revenge. Bloody and deceitful men 
shall not live out half their days? The Scripture tells us 
that Cain, after having murdered his brother Abel, dwelt- 
as a fugitive on the earth* Such is the chastisement of 
murderers. When the deed is done, there is no rest for 

1 " Non occides." Exod, xx. 13. 

2 " Tu es enim, Domine, qui vit?e et mortis habes potestatem." 
Wis. xvi. 13. 

3 " Viri sanguinum et dolosi non dimidiabunt dies suos." Ps. liv. 24. 

4 " Habitavit profugus in terra." Gen. iv. 16. 

460 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

them; they run first here and then there, to conceal 
themselves from justice, or from the relatives of the 
murdered man, and nowadays more than formerly, for 
now there are no churches to fly to which have the 
privilege of sanctuary. 

And though no one should pursue them, they will be 
unceasingly persecuted by their own conscience. In 
the "Geographical and Historical Atlas," vol. ii., we 
read, that Constans II., after having put to death his 
brother Theodosius, could never lie down in his bed 
without fancying that he saw his murdered brother by 
his side, holding in the hand a cup filled with blood, 
and saying, "Drink, brother, drink." To escape the 
torments of this vision Constans wandered through the 
world, but it never left his eyes, till at last he died 
miserably. There was also a robber who had murdered 
a child; after having committed the murder he imagined 
that he saw the child before him, and heard the child 
cry out: "Barbarous wretch, why did you murder me?" 
This apparition continued for nine years. At last the 
robber, being unable to bear its reproaches any longer, 
voluntarily confessed his crime before the judge, and 
was executed. 


God alone, then, is the Lord of our life; even we our 
selves have no right to destroy our own life. If any of 
the saints have ever caused their own death, as is related 
of St. Apollonia, who threw herself into the fire pre 
pared for her by the tyrant, they did so from an inspira 
tion of the Holy Ghost, and therefore they did not sin. 
But it was only folly and crime in the Donatist heretics 
to kill themselves and call themselves martyrs: martyrs 
they were, but of the devil, not of Christ; for in destroy 
ing their bodies they lost their souls. 

CHAP, v.] The Fifth Commandment. 46 1 

It is also a sin wilfully to produce any serious illness, 
by eating to excess, or by eating food injurious to 
health; for we are bound to preserve our life, and to 
avoid all danger of death. It is likewise a sin to desire 
one s own death. It is, however, lawful* to desire 
death, as St. Paul did when he said : / am straitened, 
having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, 1 
in order to go to heaven and be with Christ; or in order 
to be delivered from the danger of offending God, or 
from some great calamity, which might lead to despair, 
or any other sin; as Elias 2 desired to die, in order to be 
rescued from the persecution of Queen Jezabel. But it 
is not lawful to desire one s own death through rage or 

It is a mortal sin to get drunk so as to lose your senses; 
that is, to make yourself a beast instead of a man. What 
a brutal vice it is, that people cannot leave the bottle till 
they cannot stand, but reel every step they take, and 
cannot see out of their eyes ! I say again that this is a 
mortal sin, and that it includes several mortal sins; for to 
the drunkard is imputed the guilt of all the sins, all the 
blasphemies, immodest acts, and injuries to his neigh 
bors, which he foresees, or ought to foresee, that he will 
commit during his drunkenness. If in drunkenness 
there were no other evil, you at least wilfully deprive 
yourself of your senses and of the use of reason; and 
this cannot be excused from mortal sin. You may say, 
" I go to sleep, and thus digest what I have drunk." 
But to commit sin it is enough to take a quantity which 
you know from experience will be sufficient to deprive 

1 " Desiderium habens dissolvi, et esse cum Christo." Phil. i. 23. 

2 3 Kings, xix. 4. 

* In nearly all his ascetical works, as we have indicated at the end of 
the Preface of Volume XIV., the holy Doctor. teaches that one should 
even desire death in order to make sure of no more offending God and 
of possessing him for all eternity. ED. 

462 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

you of the use of the senses, On this vice of drunken 
ness you may read the learned work lately published by 
Father Aniello Cyril, of the Congregation of St. Peter 
in Cesarano: in that work he shows the great evils that 
flow from drunkenness. 

What has been already said regards ourselves ; with 
regard to others, I say that there are only three causes 
that render it lawful to take away the life of man: Pub 
lic authority, self-defence, and a just war. 

1. It is lawful to put a man to death by public authority: 
it is even a duty of princes and of judges to condemn to 
death criminals who deserve it; and it is the duty of the 
officers of justice to execute the sentence ; God himself 
wishes malefactors to be punished. 

2. It is lawful in self-defence to kill an unjust aggres 
sor, when there is no other means at hand for saving 
your own life. This is the common opinion of all theo 
logians : it is taught by St. Thomas, 1 by the Roman 
Catechism, 2 and in the canon law, 3 in which it is said 
that all laws permit us to repel force by force. It is also 
commonly held by theologians, by St. Antonine 4 and by 
St. Thomas, 5 that it is lawful to kill a robber who, after 
being admonished to desist, obstinately perseveres in 
the robbery; and they ground their doctrine on the fol 
lowing passage in Exodus: If a thief be found breaking 
open a house or undermining it, and be wounded so as to die, 
he that slew him shall not be guilty of blood." But this deci- 

1 2. 2, q. 64, a. 7. 

2 De 5 Prcec. q. 4. 

3 De Sent, excomm. c. 3. 

4 P. 3, t. 4, c. 3, 2. 
E Loco cit. 

"Si effringens fur domum, sive suffodiens, fuerit inventus, et ac- 
cepto vulnere mortuus fuerit, percussor non erit reus sanguinis." 
Exod. xxii. 2. 

CHAP, v.j The Fifth Commandment. 463 

sion is to be admitted only when the theft is very con 
siderable ; and, as several theologians hold, only when 
the owner or his family would be reduced to great want 
and inconvenience if he permitted the robbery. Theo 
logians also teach that it is lawful to kill a person who 
attempts to violate your chastity, if you have no other 
means of preserving it. 

3. It is lawful to kill enemies in a. just war; and even 
in a war when its justice is doubtful, if you are com 
manded by your own sovereign. 1 Duels and private 
challenges are unlawful, and are forbidden under pain 
of excommunication, which is incurred not only by the 
principals, but also by their seconds. He who dies in a 
duel is deprived of Christian burial. They who advise 
persons to fight duels incur the same excommunication. 

Except in these three cases, it is always a sin to kill a 
man, or to wound or beat him. 


It is also forbidden to cause an abortion, though the 
fcetus should be inanimate. But when it is animated, 
the sin is reserved, and an excommunication incurred 
by the person who causes the abortion, and by all who 
co-operate in it by act or counsel. Oh, what an enor 
mous sin it is to cause an abortion ! to make an infant 
die without baptism that is, to cause a soul to be lost 
for all eternity ! What a barbarous remedy, to endeavor 
to repair the evil of sin committed by a far greater sin ! 

And here allow me to remind you of the great danger 
to which mothers expose their infants by keeping them 
in their own bed. For it not unfrequently happens that 
in the morning infants are found dead, smothered in the 
arms of the mother. 

1 Can. causa 23, q. i, c. 4. 

464 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 


As it is a sin to injure a neighbor, so it is a sin to de 
sire evil to him : therefore, as often as you by impreca 
tion call down a curse on another, and desire that the 
evil may happen to him, you sin mortally. It is not 
necessary that the evil desire should last for a long time. 
To sin mortally, it is enough that you for a single instant 
deliberately desire death, or any other grievous evil, to 
a neighbor. 

Banish, then, forever from your mouth these accursed 
imprecations, and accustom yourself to say, "God make 
you a saint; God bless you." And when any person ad 
dresses you in a tone of anger, adopt the great remedy 
taught by the Holy Ghost: A mild answer breaketh wrath. 
Answer with sweetness, " Have compassion on me; have 
patience with me; excuse me, I did not perceive the evil 
I was doing ; I did not mean to offend ;" and you will 
soon calm the anger of the person, and he will offer you 
no further offence. If a person say to you, "I wish I 
were dead," let your answer be: " And I wish to see you 
happy and in good health." Thus you will extinguish 
his fury. But when you feel angry, it is better to re 
main silent, and not to speak at all ; for passion will 
make certain answers appear necessary; but when it 
has subsided, you will see that you have said what you 
ought not to have said, and that you have committed 
many sins, venial at least, if not mortal. 

When you receive an injury or insult, recommend 
yourself immediately to God : and should a thought of 
resentment spring up within you, reflect on the offences 
that you have offered to God. He has borne with you : 
is it too much for you to submit to an offence from a 
neighbor for God s sake ? 

If you wish to know what sort of revenge is lawful 

1 " Responsio molljs frans>il iram." Prov. xv. I. 

CHAP, v.j T/ie Fifth Commandment. 465 

and holy, I will tell you what a father inflicted on the 
murderer of his son. The history is told by Father 
Gifolfi, in his life of Caesar de Consulibus, whose only 
son it was that was murdered. The murderer, not 
knowing whose it was, took shelter in the palace of 
Caesar himself. But Caesar knew that he was the mur 
derer of his child, and what did he do ? He received 
him kindly, and gave him money and a horse, that he 
might save his life. This is the manner in which true 
Christians take revenge. 

466 instructions for the People. [PART i 



" Thou shalt not commit adultery." 

OF this commandment we can say but little. St. 
Francis de Sales says that chastity is sullied by the bare 
mention of it. Hence, let each person in his doubts on 
this subject take advice from his confessor, and regulate 
his conduct according to the direction that he receives. 


I will only observe here, in general, that it is necessary 
to confess not only all the acts, but also improper 
touches, all unchaste looks, all obscene words, especially 
when spoken with pleasure, or with danger of scandal 
to others. It is, moreover, necessary to confess all im 
modest thoughts. 

Some ignorant persons imagine that they are bound 
only to confess impure actions: they must also confess 
all the bad thoughts to which they have consented. 
Human laws forbid only external acts, because men 
only see what is manifested externally; but God, who 
sees the heart, condemns every evil thought: Man 
sees those things that appear ; but the Lord beholdeth the 
heart? This holds good for every species of bad thoughts 
to which the will consents. Indeed, whatever it is a sin 
to do, it is also in the sight of God a sin to desire. 

1 " Non moechaberis." Exod. xx. 14. 
" Homo enim videt ea quse parent ; Dominus autem intuetur cor." 

i Kings, xvi. 7. 

CHAP, vi.] The Sixth Commandment. 467 



I said, thoughts to which the will consents. Hence, it is 
necessary to know how to determine when a bad thought 
is a mortal sin, when it is venial, and when it is not sin 
ful at all. In every sin of thought there are three 
things: the suggestion, the pleasure, and the consent. 

i. The suggestion is the first thought of doing an evil 
action that is presented to the mind. This is no sin; on 
the contrary, when the will rejects it we merit a reward. 
" As often," says St. Antonine, " as you resist, so often 
you are crowned." Even the saints have been tor 
mented by bad thoughts. To conquer a temptation 
against chastity, St. Bernard threw himself among 
thorns, St. Peter of Alcantara cast himself into an icy 
pool. Even St. Paul writes that he was tempted against 
purity. There was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel 
of Satan to buffet me." He several times implored the 
Lord to deliver him from temptation. For which thing 
thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. 3 
The Lord refused to free him from the temptation, but 
said to him: My grace is sufficient for thee." And why 
did God refuse to remove the temptation ? That, by 
resisting it, th~ saint might gain greater merit. For 
power is made perfect in infirmity? St. Francis de Sales 
says that when a thief knocks at the door outside, it is 
a sure sign he has not yet got in; thus when the devil 
tempts us we have a strong proof that the soul is in the 
state of grace. St. Catharine of Siena was once assailed 

1 " Quoties resistis, toties coronaris." 

2 " Datus est mihi stimulus carnis meae, angelus Satanae, qui me 
colaphizet." 2 Cor. xii. 7. 

3 " Propter quod, ter Dominum rogavi, ut discederet a me." Ibid. 

4 " Sufficit tibi gratia mea." 

6 " Nam virtus in infirmitate perficitur. " Ibid. 9. 

468 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

by the devil for three days with impure temptations; 
after the third day our Lord appeared to her in order to 
console her. She said to him: " Ah, my Saviour, where 
hast Thou been these three days?" He replied: "I was 
in your heart to give you strength to resist the tempta 
tion by which you were attacked." He then showed 
her that her heart had become purer than it was before. 

2. After the suggestion comes the pleasure. When a 
person is not careful to banish the temptation immedi 
ately, but stops to reason with it, the thought instantly 
begins to delight him, and give him pleasure, and thus 
draws the person on to give his consent to it. As long 
as the will withholds the consent, the sin is only venial, 
and not mortal. But if the soul does not then turn to 
God, and make an effort to resist the pleasure, it will 
easily go on to give its consent. "Unless," says St. 
Anselm, " a person repel the pleasure, it passes into con 
sent, and kills the soul." 1 A womanwho had the repu 
tation of a saint was tempted to sin with one of her 
servants; she neglected to banish the thought instantly, 
and so in her heart consented, and fell into sin, but only 
in thought. She afterwards fell into a more grievous 
sin, for she concealed in confession the complacency she 
had taken in the bad thought, and died miserably. But 
because she was believed to be a saint, the bishop had 
her buried in his own chapel. On the morning after 
her burial she appeared to him, enveloped in flames, and 
confessed, but without profit, that she was damned on 
account of the bad thought to which she had consented. 

3. The soul loses the grace of God and is condemned 
to hell the instant a person consents to the desire of com 
mitting sin, or delights in thinking of the immodest 
action as if he were then committing it. This is called 

1 " Nisi quis repulerit delectationem, delectatio in consensum tran 
sit, et animam occidit." De Similit, c. 40. 

CHAP, vi.j The Sixth Commandment. 469 

morose delectation, which is different from the sin of de 

My dear Christians, be careful to banish these bad 
thoughts, by instantly turning for help to Jesus and 
Mary. He who contracts the habit of consenting to 
bad thoughts exposes himself to great danger of dying 
in sin, for the reason that it is very easy to commit sins 
of thought. In a quarter of an hour a person may en 
tertain a thousand wicked desires, and for every evil de 
sire to which he consents he deserves hell. At the hour 
of death the dying cannot commit sins of action, because 
they are unable to move; but they can easily indulge 
sins of thought, and the devil suggests every kind of 
wicked thought and desire to them when they are in 
that state. St. Eleazar, as Surius J relates, was so vio 
lently and frequently tempted by bad thoughts at the 
hour of death, that he exclaimed: " Oh, how great is the 
power of the devils at the hour of death!" The sain t, 
however, conquered his enemies, because he was in the 
habit of rejecting bad thoughts; but woe to those who 
have acquired a habit of consenting to them! Father 
Segneri 2 tells us of a man who during his life had often 
consented to bad thoughts. At the hour of death he 
confessed his sins with great compunction, so that every 
one regarded him as a saint; but after death he ap 
peared and said that he was damned; he stated that he 
made a good con fession, and that God had pardoned 
all his sins; but before death the devil represented to 
him that, should he recover, it would be ingratitude to 
forsake the woman who loved him so much. He ban 
ished the first temptation: a second came; he then de 
layed for a little, but in the end he rejected it: he was 
assailed by a third temptation, and consented to it. 
Thus, he said, he had died in sin, and was damned. 

1 Vit. c. 33. 2 // Crist, istr. p. I, rag. 31. 

47 Instructions for the People. I.PART i. 


4. My brother, do not say, as many do, that sins 
against chastity are light sins, and that God bears with 

I. What! Do you say that is a light sin ? But it is a 
mortal sin : and if it is a mortal sin, one act of it, though 
it be only the consent to a wicked thought, is sufficient 
to send you to hell. No fornicator . . hath inheritance 
in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and of God." Is it a light 
sin ? Even the pagans held impurity to be the worst of 
vices on account of the miserable effects that it produces. 
Seneca says: " Immodesty is the greatest evil of the 
world;" 2 and Cicero writes: "There is no plague so 
fatal as bodily pleasure;" 3 and (to come to the saints) 
St. Isidore says* "Run through all sins, you will find 
none equal to this crime." 4 

In the lives of the ancient Fathers it is related that a 
hermit, who once by God s grace was walking with an 
angel, met with a dead dog that stank horribly, but 
the angel gave no sign of disgust at the smell that it 
exhaled. They afterwards met a young man elegantly 
dressed and highly perfumed; the angel stopped his 
nostrils. When the hermit asked him why he did so, 
he answered that the young man, on account of the 
vice of impurity in which he indulged, sent forth a far 
more intolerable stench than the putrid dog that they 
had passed. Lyranus writes that impurity is an object 
of horror even to the devils: " Luxury is hateful to the 
devils themselves." So much so that a magician who 

1 Omnis fornicator, aut immundus . . . non habet hereditatem in 
regno Christi." Eph. v. 5. 

"Maximum sseculi malum, impudicitia." Comp. ad Helv. c. 16. 
"Nullam capitaliorem pestem, quam corporis voluptatem." De 
Senect. c. 12. 

Quodcumque peccatum dixeris, nihil huic sceleri aquale reperies," 
" Est luxuria ipsis daemoniis exosa." 

CHAP, vi.] The Sixth Commandment. 471 

had frequent communication with the devil, on one 
occasion invoked him after having once committed a sin 
of impurity. The devil appeared, but would not come 
near him, and kept his back turned to him. The magi 
cian asked him why he treated him in that manner. 
The devil answered that it was on account of his 
impurity: " Your lust does not permit me to approach 

Nevertheless, as St. Thomas says, the devils delight 
in no sin so much as in those against chastity. The 
reason why the devil takes so much delight in this vice 
is that it is difficult for a person who indulges in it to 
be delivered from it. 2 And why ? First, because this 
vice blinds the sinner, and does not allow him to see the 
insult that he offers to God, nor the miserable state of 
damnation in which he lives and slumbers. The prophet 
Osee says that sinners of this kind lose even the desire 
of returning to God. They will ?iot, he says, set their 
thoughts to return to their God. And why ? For the spirit 
of fornication is in the midst of them? Secondly, because 
this vice hardens the heart, and makes it obstinate. 
Thirdly, the devil takes peculiar delight in this vice, 
because it is the source of a hundred other sins of 
thefts, hatred, murder, perjury, detraction, etc. Do 
not, then, my dear Christians, ever say again that im 
purity is but a light sin. 

II. You say: But God bears ttnth it and winks at it. 
Does he; indeed? 1 tell you that God has chastised no 
vice so severely in men as the vice of impurity. Read 
the Scriptures, and you will find that in punishment of 

1 " Tua libido non sinit me ad te accedere." 

2 " Diabolus dicitur raaxime gaudere de peccatoluxurire, quia difficile 
ab eo homo potest eripi." I. 2, q. 73, a. 5. 

3 " Non dabunt cogitationes suas ut revertantur ad Deum suum, 
quia spiritus fornicationum in medio eorum." Os. v. 4. 

4 Gen. xix. Wis. x. 6. 

47 2 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

this sin God sent fire from heaven and burnt five cities, 
along with all their inhabitants. In punishment of this 
vice he sent the universal deluge. For all flesh has cor 
rupted its way upon the earth. 1 Men were polluted with 
this sin; and God caused the rain to fall forty days 
and forty nights: thus all were destroyed, except eight 
persons who were saved in the ark. The deluge came 
and destroyed them all? We also read in the Scriptures 
that the Hebrews, having entered Setim, a city of the 
Moabites, fell into sin with the women of the place, and, 
by an order from God, Moses put twenty-four thousand 
of the Hebrews to the sword. The people committed for 
nication with the daughters of Moab. . . . And there were 
slain twenty-four thousand men* We may see any day 
that God chastises the sin of impurity even in this life. 
Enter into the hospital of incurables, and ask why so 
many miserable young persons of both sexes are obliged 
to submit to the most painful operations, to the knife 
and the branding-iron, and you will be told that it is on 
account of sins of impurity. Because thou hast forgotten 
Me, said the Lord, and cast Me off behind thy back, bear 
thou also thy wickedness and thy fornication" Because you 
have forgotten Me, and have banished Me from you, in 
order to gratify the flesh, suffer, even on this earth, the 
chastisement of your impurities. 

Hitherto I have only spoken of the temporal punish- - 
ment inflicted in this life on impure persons. But what 
shall become of them in the next? You say that God 
bears with this sin; but St. Remigius says that not many 
Christian adults are saved, and that the rest are damned 

" Omnis quippe caro corruperat viam suam." Gen. vi. 12. 

" Venit diluvium, et perdidit omnes." Luke, xvii. 27. 

" Fornicatus est populus cum filiabus Moab, . . . et occisi sunt 
viginti quatuor millia hominum." Num. xxv. r, 9. 

" Quiaoblita es mei, et projecisti me post corpus tuum, tu quoque 
porta scelus tuum et fornicationes tuas."secA. xxiii. 35, 

CHAP, vi.] 77ie Sixth Commandment. 473 

for sins of impurity. 1 Father Segneri says 2 that three 
fourths of the reprobate are damned for this vice. 

St. Gregory relates 3 that a nobleman committed a sin 
against purity. In the beginning he felt great remorse 
of conscience; but, instead of going to confession imme 
diately, he deferred it from day to day, until, disregard 
ing his sin, and the voice of God, which called him to 
repentance, he was suddenly struck dead without giving 
any sign of conversion. After he was buried a flame 
was seen issuing from his grave for three successive 
days, which reduced to ashes not only the flesh and 
bones of the unhappy man, but also the entire sepulchre. 

Listen to another horrible fact related by the cele 
brated Fortunatus, Bishop of Triers, in his life of Mar- 
cellus, Bishop of Paris. A lady of high rank defiled 
herself with this sin; she died, and was buried. After 
that a large serpent was seen every day entering her 
tomb to feed on her flesh. The inhabitants were filled 
with terror at the sight; so St. Marcellus went and 
struck the serpent with his pastoral staff, and com 
manded him to come no more to the place : whereupon 
the serpent disappeared never to return. 


For those who are unable to abstain from impurity, 
or who are in great danger of falling into it, God has 
instituted a remedy in the marriage state as St. Paul 
says, But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry; 
for it is better to marry than to be burnt? " But," some 
may say, " Father, marriage is a great burden." Who 
denies it ? But have you heard the words of the Apostle ? 

1 " Ex adultis, propter carnis vitium, pauci salvantur." 

2 // Crist, istr. p. i, rag, 24. 

3 Dial. 1. 4, c. 32. 

4 " Quod si non continent, nubant; melius est cnim nubere, quam 
uri." i Cor. vii. 9. 

474 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

It is better to marry, and to bear this great burden, than 
to burn forever in hell. 

But do not imagine that for those who are unwilling 
or unable to marry there is no other means but marriage 
by which they may preserve chastity, for those who 
recommend themselves to God may by his grace conquer 
all the temptations of hell. What, then, are these 
means ? I will tell you 

I. The first remedy is to humble ourselves constantly 
before God. The Lord chastises the pride of some by 
permitting them to fall into a sin against chastity. It 
is necessary, then, to be humble, and to distrust alto 
gether our own strength. David confessed that he had 
fallen into sin in consequence of not having been humble, 
and of having trusted too much in himself. Before I was 
humbled, I offended. 1 We must then be always afraid of 
ourselves, and must trust in God only, to preserve us 
from this sin. 

II. The second remedy is instantly to have recourse to 
God for help, without stopping to reason with the temp 
tation. When an impure image is presented to the mind 
we must immediately endeavor to turn our thoughts to 
God, or to something which is indifferent. But the best 
rule is immediately to invoke the names of Jesus and 
Mary, and continue to invoke them until the tempta 
tion ceases, or at least till the heat of it is over. When 
the temptation is violent, it is useful to renew our pur 
pose of never consenting to any sin, saying : "My God, 
I would rather die than offend Thee." And then let us 
ask aid: "My Jesus, assist me; Mary, pray for me." 
The names of Jesus and Mary have special power to 
banish the temptation of the devil. 

III. The third remedy is to frequent the sacraments of 
Penance and Eucharist. It is very useful to disclose un 
chaste temptations to your confessor. St. Philip Neri 
" Priusquam humiliarer, ego deliqui." Ps. cxviii. 67. 

CHAP. vi.i The Sixth Commandment. 475 

says that a temptation disclosed is half conquered. And 
should a person have the misfortune to fall into sin 
against purity, let him go to confession immediately. 
It was so that St. Philip Neri delivered a young man 
from the chains of sin he ordered him to go to confes 
sion immediately whenever he fell into it. The holy 
Communion has great efficacy in giving strength to con 
quer temptations against chastity. The most holy sac 
rament is called Wine springing forth virgins. 1 That is, 
the wine that is converted into the blood of Jesus Christ 
by the words of consecration. Earthly wine is injurious 
to chastity; but the celestial wine preserves it. 

IV. The fourth remedy is devotion to Mary the Mother 
of God, who is called the Virgin of virgins? How many 
young men have, by devotion to the Blessed Virgin, pre 
served themselves pure and chaste as angels ! Father 
Segneri 3 relates that a young man, so polluted with the 
vice of impurity that his confessor could not absolve 
him, went one day to confession to a Father of the 
Society of Jesus. The Father dismissed him, and told 
him to say every morning three " Hail Marys" in honor 
of the purity of the Blessed Virgin, in order to obtain 
through her intercession the grace to be delivered from 
the bad habit. After several years the young man re 
turned to the same Father, but had scarcely a venial sin 
to confess; when he had finished his confession he said 
to the confessor : " Father, do you know me ? I am the 
person whom you could not absolve some years ago, on 
account of my sins against purity; but by saying the 
three "Hail Marys" every morning I have, by the grace 
of God, got rid of the bad habit." He gave leave to the 
confessor to state the fact in general terms from the 
pulpit. A soldier who was on terms of criminal in- 

" Vinum germinans virgines." Zach. ix. 17. 

2 " Sancta Virgo virginum." 

3 // Christ, istr. p. 3, rag. 34. 

476 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

timacy with a woman heard the story told in a sermon. 
He began to say the three " Hail Marys," and was freed 
from the habit of sin. One day the devil tempted him 
to go to the house of the woman in order to convert her. 
But what happened ? When he was on the point of enter 
ing he was driven back by some invisible but powerful 
hand, and carried to a considerable distance. He thus 
became more and more convinced of the protection of 
the Blessed Virgin ; for had he entered the house, he 
would probably have relapsed in consequence of being 
exposed to the proximate occasion of sin. Let each one 
practise this little devotion of saying every day three 
" Hail Marys," in honor of the Blessed Virgin, adding 
after each " Hail Mary," " Through thy pure and im 
maculate conception, O Mary, obtain for me purity and 
sanctity of body and soul." 

V. The fifth remedy, which is the most necessary for 
avoiding sins against chastity, is to fly from dangerous 
occasions. Generally speaking, the first of all the means 
of preserving yourself always chaste is to avoid the oc 
casions of sin. There are many means, such as to fre 
quent the sacraments, to have recourse to God in temp 
tations, to be devoted to the Blessed Virgin ; but the 
first of all is to avoid the occasions of sin. The Scrip 
ture says, Your strength shall be as the ashes of tow, .... 
and there shall be none to quench it. 1 Our strength is like 
the strength of tow thrown into the fire : it is instantly 
burned and consumed. Would it not be a miracle if 
tow cast into fire did not burn? It would also be a 
miracle if we exposed ourselves to the occasion, and did 
not fall. According to St. Bernardine of Siena, 2 it is a 
greater miracle not to fall in the occasion of sin, than to 

1 " Erit fortitude vestra ut favilla stuppae, . . . et non erit qui extin- 
guat." Isa. i. 31. 

2 " Majus miraculum est in occasione non peccare, quam morttmm 

CHAP, vi.] The Sixtli Commandment. 477 

raise a dead man ta life. St. Philip Neri used to say 
that in the warfare of the flesh, cowards that is, they 
who fly from occasions are always victorious. You 
say : / hope that God will assist me. But God says : He 
that loveth the danger shall perish in it. 1 God does not 
assist those who, without necessity, expose themselves 
voluntarily to the occasion of sin. It is necessary to 
know that he who puts himself in the proximate occa 
sion * of sin is in the state of sin, though he should have 
no intention of committing the principal sin to which he 
exposes himself. 

By proximate occasions even saints have fallen, and 
persons on the point of expiring have been lost. Father 
Segneri relates 2 that a woman who had lived in the 
habit of sin with a young man called for a confessor at 
the hour of death, and with tears confessed all the 
wickedness of her life. She afterwards sent for her 
friend, with the intention of bringing him to God by 
her example. But what happened ? Listen to the con 
sequences of the occasion of sin : when the young man 
arrived, she fixed her eyes upon him for some time, and 
at last, with a gush of carnal affection, said to him : 
" Dearest friend, I always loved you, and I love you 
.now more than ever. I know that on your account I 
shall go to hell ; but no matter : I am willing to be 
damned for love of you." With these words on her 
lips she expired. 

We must, then, avoid the occasions of sin if we wish 
to be saved. 

i. We must carefully abstain from looking at persons, 
the sight of whom may tempt us to bad thoughts. St. 

"Qui amat periculum, in illo peribit." Ecclus. iii. 27. 
2 // Cris. istr. p. i , rag. 24. 

* What is meant by proximate occasion may be seen in Part II. ch. 
v - 3. n - 3- 

478 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

Bernard says: "Through the eyes the arrows of impure 
love enter, and kill the soul. " And the Holy Ghost 
says: Turn away thy face from a woman dressed up? Is it, 
then, a sin to look at a woman? Yes, it is at least a 
venial sin to look at young women; and when the looks 
are repeated, there is also danger of mortal sin. St. 
Francis de Sales says that to look at dangerous objects 
is bad, but to look a second time is still more injurious. 
One of the ancient philosophers blinded himself volun 
tarily in order to be freed from unchaste suggestions. 
It is not lawful for us Christians to destroy our sight 
physically, but we should destroy it morally by turning 
the eyes away from objects which may excite tempta 
tions. St. Aloysius Gonzaga never looked at women ; 
even speaking to his mother he kept his eyes cast down 
upon the ground. It is equally dangerous for women 
to look at young men. 

2. It is necessary to avoid all bad company, and all 
assemblies where light bantering and flirting go on 
between men and women. With the holy thou wilt be 
holy . . . and with the perverse thou wilt be perverted? If 
you keep company with the virtuous, you shall be vir 
tuous; if you associate with the unchaste, you too will 
indulge in impurity. St. Thomas says that a man will 
be like the companions with whom he converses. 4 And 
should you ever find yourself in dangerous society from 
which you cannot withdraw, follow the advice of the 
Holy Ghost. Hedge in thy ears with thorns!" Place a 
hedge of thorns about your ears that you may not hear 

1 " Per oculos intrat in mentem sagitta impuri amoris." De Modo 
bene viv. c. 23. 

2 " Averte faciem tuam a muliere compta." Ecchis. ix. 8. 

3 " Cum sancto sanctus eris; . . . cum perverse perverteris." Ps. 
xvii. 26. 

4 " Tails erit, qualis est conversatio qua utitur." 

5 " Sepi aures tuas spinis; linguam nequam noli audire." Ecclus. 
xxviii. 28. 

CHAP, vi.j The Sixth Commandment. 479 

the obscene words which others utter. When very 
young, St. Bernardine of Siena used to blush as often 
as ho heard an immodest word; hence his companions 
were careful never to use improper language in his 
presence. Such was the horror which St. Stanislaus 
Kostka felt for obscene conversation that on hearing an 
immodest word he swooned away, and lost the use of 
his senses. Young girls, whenever you hear any one 
speak immodestly, turn your back and go away. It 
was thus St. Edmund acted, as we read in his life; 1 and 
one day, after having left his companions because their 
language was obscene, he met on his way a most beau 
tiful boy who said to him: " God save you, my beloved." 
The saint asked who he was. The young boy answered : 
" Look at my forehead: there you may read my name." 
The saint raised his eyes, and read the words, " Jesus of 
Nazareth, King of the Jews." Jesus Christ immediately 
disappeared, but left the saint consolation and joy. 
Whenever you find yourself in the society of young 
persons who speak improperly, and cannot leave them, 
be careful at least not to listen to them: turn away 
your face, and show that such language is displeasing 
to you. 

3. I will here mention the chastisement inflicted on 
two persons for obscene language. Turlot 2 relates that 
St. Valerius, returning on a winter s day to his monas 
tery, and not being able to reach it before night, took 
shelter in a private house. On entering, he found the 
master engaged with another man in obscene conversa 
tion; he reproved them, but they persevered in their 
sin. St. Valerius, though the evening was very cold, 
fled from the house. As soon as he departed, the 
owner of the house was struck blind, and his companion 
was attacked with a loathsome disease. They ran after 

1 Spec. Exempl. 

2 Tr&or de la Doctr. chrti. p. 3, ch. 7, 1. 3. 

480 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

the saint, and entreated him to return, but he refused. 
One remained blind, and the other died after being con 
sumed by the disease. Oh ! how great is the evil caused 
by immodest language ! _An obscene word may be the 
cause of the perdition of all who hear it. Some excuse 
themselves, saying that they only use such words in jest. 
Yet in uttering them you feel complacency ! and then 
the scandal which you give to others ! Miserable man, 
these jests shall make you weep for all eternity in hell. 

4. But let us return to the necessity of avoiding the 
occasions of sin. It is necessary, also, to abstain from 
looking at immodest pictures. St. Charles Borromeo 
forbids all fathers of families to keep such pictures in 
their houses. 

It is necessary, also, to abstain from reading bad 
books, and not only from those that are positively ob 
scene, but also from those that treat of profane love, 
such as Ariosto s poems, the " Pastor Fido," and all such 
works. Fathers should not allow their children to read 
romances. These sometimes do more harm than even 
obscene books; they put fantastical notions and affec 
tions into young persons heads, which destroy all de 
votion, and afterwards impel them to give themselves 
up to sin. "Vain reading," says St. Bonaventure, " be 
gets vain thoughts and extinguishes devotion." Make 
your children read spiritual books, ecclesiastical his 
tories, and the lives of the saints. And here I repeat: 
Do not allow your daughters to be taught their lessons 
by a man, though he be a St. Paul or a St. Francis of 
Assisi. The saints are in heaven. 

5. Be careful, also, not to permit your sons to act 
plays, nor even to be present at an immodest comedy. St. 
Cyprian says: "Who went chaste to the play, returned 

1 " Vana lectio vanas generat cogitationes, et exstinguit mentis de- 
votionem." De Jnstit. Nov. p. I, c. 14. 

CHAP vi.i The Sixt/i Commandment. 481 


unchaste." A young man or woman goes to the play 
full of modesty and in the grace of God, and returns 
home without modesty and at enmity with God. Do 
not allow your children to go to those feasts of the devil 
where there is dancing, courting, immodest singing, and 
sinful amusements. " Where there is dancing," says 
St. Ephrem, " there a feast of the devil is celebrated." 
But you will say: "What harm is there in a little re 
laxation and amusement?" St. Peter Chrysologus says: 
" They are not amusements, but grievous offences against 
God." 3 A certain companion of the servant of God, 
Father John Baptist Vitelli, wished, against the will of 
the father, to go to a festivity of this kind which was 
celebrated at Norcia; the consequence was, first, he lost 
the grace of God, then he abandoned himself to a wicked 
life, and in the end was killed by the hand of his own 

6. Finally, some one may ask whether it is a morta 
sin to make love. What can I say ? Ordinarily speak 
ing, I say that persons who give themselves up to love- 
making are scarcely free from the proximate occasion of 
sinning mortally. Experience shows that few of them 
are exempt from grievous sins. If they do not commit 
mortal sin in the beginning of their courtship, they will 
in the course of time very easily fall into it: for at first 
they speak together through a predilection for each 
other s conversation; this predilection afterwards grows 
into a passion; when the passion has taken root, it blinds 
the mind, and precipitates the soul into a thousand sins 
of bad thoughts, of immodest words, and, in the end of 
sinful acts. Cardinal Pico de la Mirandola, bishop of 
Albano, forbade the confessors of his diocese to absolve 

" Quae pudica ad spectaculum processerat, revertitur impudica ."- 
De Gratia D. ad Donat. 

2 " Ubi tripudia, ibi diaboli festum celebratur." De Ludicris Rebus. 

3 " Non sunt hsec ludicra; sunt crimina." Serm. 155. 


482 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

those lovers who, after being duly admonished, continued 
to hold long conversations together, particularly if they 
should be alone, or if the conversations should be of 
great length, or clandestine, or by night. " But, Father," 
some of them will say, " I have no bad intention. I have 
not even bad thoughts." Young men and young girls, 
avoid these amatory conversations with persons of a 
different sex. In the beginning the devil does not sug 
gest bad thoughts, but when the affection has taken 
root it will not allow you to see the evil you do ; and 
almost without knowing how, you will find that you 
have lost your soul, your God, and your honor. Oh! 
how many innocent young persons does the devil gain 
in this way! 

CHAP, vii.] The Seventh Commandment. 483 



" Thou shall not steal. l 

i. On Theft. 
i. WHAT is THEFT? 

IT consists in taking the property of another, without a 
just cause, and against his will 

I have said without a just cause ; for if a person were 
in extreme necessity, or had no other means of recover 
ing a debt due to him, he can then take the property of 
another, even against his will. With regard to necessity, 
this can hold good when the necessity is extreme ; that 
is, when a person would be in proximate danger of 
death, or of a most grievous evil, if he did not take what 
belonged to another; and then he can take only so much 
as is necessary to rescue him from the proximate danger 
to which he is exposed. But a person who is only in 
great and not extreme necessity cannot take the property 
of another without his consent, as appears from the 
condemnation of the 36th proposition by Innocent XL 
And next, with regard to compensation, you may not take 
your neighbor s property to recover a debt due from 
him to you, unless the debt is certain, and you have 
no other means of obtaining satisfaction for it. Hence, 
35 has been already said in the instruction on the fourth 
commandment, 2 a servant cannot make to himself occult 

" Non furtum fades." Exod. xx. 15. 
Chapter IV. 3, page 455. 

484 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

compensation for services which he judges to be deserv 
ing of more wages than he has received. To assert that 
he can make such compensation has been condemned by 
Innocent XL I also said against the will of the owner; 
for it is not theft to take the property of another with 
his consent, or when his consent is presumed to be cer 


Theft, when committed in a matter of great moment 
with regard to the person whose property is taken away, 
is certainly a mortal sin, and the person who is guilty 
of it is condemned to hell, Nor thieves, nor covetous, 
. . . nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God? 
This is a sin which is punished by human justice even 
with death, for security of property is necessary for the 
peace of all states, and thefts destroy this security. 

Every theft of anything of value, then, is a mortal sin, 
even though the whole amount should be taken away on 
several occasions in small quantities; so many small 
sums make up a large amount. If the theft be com 
mitted, not secretly, but by force, it is a double sin, be 
cause it is a double injustice. If the thing stolen belong 
to the church, or if the theft be committed in the church, 
it is a sacrilege. 


i. Not only they who take away the property of an 
other are guilty of theft, but also all who neglect (when 
they are able) to pay to servants their wages, or what is 
due to artisans, or other persons. These are called 
honorable thefts the thefts of nobles, who have no great 
scruple about them; but how many gc to hell for this 
sin ! The bread of the needy is the life of the poor j he 

" Neque fures, neque avari, ... neque rapaces regnum Dei pos- 
sidebunt." I Cor. vi. 10. 

CHAP, vii.] The Seventh Commandment. 485 

that defraudeth them thereof is a man of blood. 1 They 
who defraud or neglect to pay the poor man, take away 
his life; for he lives by the labor of his hands. St. James 
says that the wages due to the laborer, and not paid, cry 
to God for vengeance against him who withholds them. 
Behold the hire of the laborers . . . which by fraud has been 
kept back by you, crieth j and the cry of them hath entered 
into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth? The Holy Ghost 
exhorts us to pay before night (that is, as soon as we 
can) what we owe to the poor. But thoit shalt pay him 
the price of his labor on the same day, before the going down 
of the sun, because he is poor? You say, I will pay him 
to morrow; and in the mean time he is dying of hunger. 
Joseramnus, the son of Lideric, Count of Flanders, in 
a time of scarcity, deferred to pay for a basket of fruit 
which he had purchased from a poor woman; in conse 
quence of the delay three of her sons died of hunger. 
Tn punishment of this crime the count commanded the 
head of his son to be cut off. This fact is related by 
Verme.* We should be ashamed to defraud the poor, 
whom we are bound to relieve. 

2. They also are condemned to hell who do not pay 
pious legacies left by their ancestors. The poor souls 
remain in the fire of purgatory, and cannot speak. The 
rectors or administrators of churches are afraid to say a 
word, and so the Masses remain unsaid and the aims are 
not given away. Oh! what calamities fall on many 

1 " Panis egentium vita pauperum est; qui defraudat ilium, homo 
sanguinis est." Ecclus. xxxiv. 25. 

2 " Ecce merces operariorum, . . . quse fraudata estavobis, clamat; 
et clamor eorum in aures Domini Sabaoth introivit." James, v. 4. 

3 " Eadem die reddes ei pretium laboris sui ante solis occasum, quia 
pauper est." Deut. xxiv. 15. 

* Father Engelgrave {Lux. Evang. p. i, embl. 23, 2) cites the 
same example as having occurred at Lille, according to Bruzelinus 
(Annal. Fland. aijn. 955). ED. 

486 Instructions for the People, 


families because they will not pay the money left by 
their ancestors for pious purposes! 

3. They also are guilty of sin who do not pay dues to 
their pastors. The obligation of paying dues to pastors 
is imposed by a human and divine law: for they are 
given to the pastors for their maintenance. The pastor 
is bound to preach, to administer the sacraments, to as 
sist the dying, and correct sinners, even at the risk of 
his life. The servant. who assists you in your bodily 
wants has a right to support; and will you refuse to 
give him who serves your soul the means of living, that 
he may be able to assist you ? 

4. What shall we say of lay administrators ? To them 
we may apply the text of David: They eat the sacrifices 
of the dead . . . and destruction was multiplied among them. 1 
They eat the sacrifices of the dead; they spend in ban 
quets and drunken feasts the revenues left by the dead 
for Masses, for the marriage portion of poor women, 
and for other pious works; and what are the conse 
quences? "Destruction is multiplied among them." 
Destruction follows destruction; fathers, sons, grand 
sons, great-grandsons, entire families, are damned. 

5. " But, Father, I have a family, a wife and children; 
I am in great want; what can I do?" And will you go 
to hell for your family and children? Listen to what 
happened to a father of a family, who had defiled his 
conscience by taking the property of others in order to 
assist his children. At death he called for a notary in 
order to make his will. As soon as the notary arrived, 
the dying man said: " Write the following bequests: I 
leave my soul to the devil." The family began to ex 
claim: " O Jesus, Jesus, the poor man is delirious!" He 
replied: "I am not delirious, I am not delirious; notary, 
write: I leave my soul to the devils, that they may carry 

" Comederunt sacrificia mortuorum, . . . et multiplicata est in eis 
ruina." Ps. cv. 28. 

CHAP, vii.] The Seventh Commandment. 487 

it to hell, in punishment of the thefts I have committed. 
I also leave to the devils the soul of my wife, who en 
couraged me to steal, that she might indulge her vanity. 
I also leave to the devils my children, who have been the 
cause of my thefts." The confessor who heard his con 
fession during life, and who was then assisting him, ex 
horted him not to despair, but to have confidence in 
God. But the dying man concluded his will, saying: 
" I also leave to the devils my confessor, because during 
life he always absolved me, and did not oblige me to 
make restitution." 

6. Usury also is a theft The man who lends money 
on the condition of (usurious) interest being paid to 
him annually, or even every month, commits a true 
theft. " But he pays the interest willingly." He pays 
willingly, but he must pay. What do you lose by lend 
ing that sum to your neighbor? If you do lose any 
thing, if you could be sure of gaining something by 
using the money yourself, then you can make the bor 
rower make up for your loss; this is fair interest; but 
then you must explain all this to him if you do exact 
interest. But if you lose nothing by it, what right 
have you to charge anything? This is a real theft. 
" Lend, hoping for nothing thereby," says the Gos 
pel. Hoping for nothing thereby; that is, you ought 
to lend for kindness and charity, not for gain. I will 
say no more, for I cannot now discuss the many ques 
tions connected with usury; for I am giving an instruc 
tion, not a lecture on moral theology. I only admonish 
each of you, whenever doubts arise, not to resolve them 
by yourself, for passion will make you see things with 
a jaundiced eye, but to consult a confessor or other 
learned man, and to act according to the advice re 
ceived.* Let public usurers remember that by a de- 

* At the present time money with us is not a mere medium of private 
exchange for the purposes of housekeeping; it is a medium of com- 

488 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

cree of the Council of Lateran 1 they are excommuni 
cated, forbidden to receive the body of Christ, and after 
death are to be deprived of Christian burial. Let it also 
be remembered that sometimes usury is not open, but is 
palliated by being taken under some other pretext; all 
gain received must be restored. Alas! how many poor 
souls go to hell on account of this accursed usury! If 
any one feel a scruple on this point, let him confess it 
immediately, and apply a remedy, now that he has time; 
otherwise he will go to hell, where he will be no longer 
able to repair the evil. A virtuous young man became 
a monk; while in the monastery he saw his father and 
brother damned for the usury which they had practised, 
and heard one of them cursing the other. The afflicted 
monk asked if he could give them any relief. They 
answered: "No; for in hell there is no redemption." 

7. They also are guilty of sin who unjustly injure the 
property of another, and are as much bound to make 
restitution as if they had committed theft, as soon as 
they are aware of the injury they have done, He also 
is guilty of sin, and bound to restitution, who hinders 
another to obtain what is due to him in justice ; or who, 
by fraudulent means, by force, or by calumnies, hinders 
a person from getting a present or legacy, which he 
would probably have obtained, though it could not be 
said to be due to him in justice. 

8. They, too, are all guilty of sin, and obliged to res- 

1 Clem. 1. 5, tit. 5. 

mercial exchange. It represents not use value, but market value. 
Formerly Church and State together enacted a number of laws to 
restrain the taking of interest. At this day the State has repealed 
those laws, and the Church has officially signified that she no longer 
insists on them. Still she maintains dogmatically that there is such a 
sin as usury, and what it is, as defined in the Fifth Council of the Late 
ran. See Moral Philosophy, article Usury, page 255, by Rev. Joseph 
Rickaby, S. J. ED. 

CHAP, vii.] The Seventh Commandment. 489 

titution who co-operate in theft, or in an injury to a 
neighbor, by command, by counsel, or by not prevent 
ing the injury when they are able to do so. Thus a 
servant charged with the care of any part of his master s 
property is bound to make restitution, if when able he 
does not prevent it from being injured. Servants who 
do not prevent an injury being done to their master, not 
by one of their fellow-servants, but by a stranger, are 
also obliged to make restitution; but others who can, 
with a trifling inconvenience to themselves, prevent an 
injury to a neighbor, are not bound to restitution; be 
cause, though they sin grievously against charity, they 
do not violate justice. 

9. They also are guilty of theft who accidentally find 
the property of another and neglect to return it to the 
owner, when they know him, or who, when they do not 
know the owner, neglect to make a diligent search in 
order to find him. Goods accidentally found should be 
preserved as long as there remains a hope of finding the 
owner; and I add, that when the thing found is of great 
value, such as a costly ornament, a valuable ring, a 
purse containing a large sum of money, there is always 
reason to hope that the owner will be found, if not im 
mediately, at least in the course of time; for he will take 
care to publish the loss in every place through which he 
has passed; and thus in the course of time the owner of 
the article lost will be ascertained. 

10. They who purchase stolen goods are also guilty of 
sin. It is useless to say: " If I had not purchased them, 
another would have bought them." It is related by 
Verme, that a soldier stole a calf from a poor woman. 
With tears in her eyes, she said to the soldier: " Why 
will you take this calf?" The soldier replied: "If I do 
not take it, another will steal it." So he carried off the 
calf. After a time the soldier was killed, and a person 
saw him tormented in hell, with a devil at his side who 

490 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 

was scourging him cruelly. The miserable man was 
crying out: "Why do you scourge me?" The devil 
answered: " If you are not scourged by me, you will be 
scourged by another." Do not, then, allow yourself to 
be deceived by the devil; do not say: "If I do not take 
this article, it will be taken by another." If another 
take it, he will be damned; if you take it, you will be 
damned. But you will say: "I have paid for it." But 
do you not know that it is stolen property ? How, then, 
can you keep it? You have done wrong in buying it; 
you must now restore it. 

ii. They also are guilty of theft who commit fraud or 
injustice in buying or selling, or who do not stand to 
their bargains or contracts. (The catechist may here go 
through the different trades, and show what frauds are 
usually committed in each; but he should be careful not 
to talk of things that do not occur, or are not known in the 
place where he is giving instruction.) It is a theft when 
tailors cut more cloth than is wanted, or make people 
purchase an unnecessary quantity, and afterwards keep 
what is left, or who retain the remnants of cloth, or who 
charge more than they pay for the cloth that they pur 
chase for others. Or when shoemakers glut together two 
pieces of leather for the sole, to make it look thicker, or 
make the undersoles of felt or brown paper; or use 
rotten old leather which they bring into shape with their 
pincers and hammer. Carpenters who varnish over an 
unsound place in the wood, or stop jt up with putty, or 
make the person buy more nails than they use. Shop 
keepers, who use light weights or scanty measures. 
Neither shall there be in thy house, says the Lord, a 
greater bushel and a less ; . . . for the Lord thy God 
abhor reth him that doth these things. They who use 
light weights and scanty measures are an abomination 

" Abominatur enim Dominus Deus tuus eum qui facit hac." Deut. 
xxv. 1 6. 

CHAP, vii.] The Seventh Commandment. 491 

to the Lord. Some one may inquire, if a shopkeeper 
who has for a long time given less than the just weight 
or measure to others is bound to make restitution, how 
is he to do so, after having defrauded so many different 
persons ? Tiie best way to make restitution, without in 
jury to his reputation, is to give a little more than the 
just weight or measure to all who come from the quarter 
in which the persons whom he defrauded live. Let us 
proceed. Cloth carders are bound to adhere literally to 
their bargain. It is a theft tor publicans to mix water 
with wine, and then demand the price of pure wine, or 
to make others pay for more wine or spirits than they 
get. Persons who mix water or earth with the coals 
which they sell, or who deceive the purchaser in weigh 
ing the coals. Persons who spin flax or silk, and damp 
it to make it weigh heavier, or mix soap or sand with it. 
Persons who sell goods for others, and keep a part of 
the price received; the entire price belongs to the owner 
of the goods; the sellers can retain only the wages of 
their labor. Then, are all these condemned to hell? 
Who doubts this? Me who has received the property 
of another, and does not restore it, is damned. Oh! do 
you who are engaged in business or trade wish to make 
great profit? Always tell the truth. Cesarius relates 
that two merchants who had always to accuse them 
selves in confession of having told lies in their dealings 
with others, were always in poverty. The confessor 
said to them: " Do not tell any more lies, and I promise 
you that you shall realize great profit." They obeyed; 
and his words were verified. Having the truth always 
in their mouth, they obtained the character of honest 
men; thus they gained more in one year by the truth 
than they had gained in ten years by lies. Let us now 
proceed to speak of restitution. 

1 Mirac. 1. 3, c. 37. 

49 2 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 



Some, who have taken away the property of another, 
regard restitution, when imposed by a confessor, as a 
very severe penance. But it is not a penance: it is an 
obligation from which neither the confessor, nor the 
bishop, nor the Pope can dispense. Render, therefore, 
says St. Paul, to all men their dues. 1 The goods of others 
must be restored, or, if they be consumed, their value 
must be given to the owner; and if he is dead, the resti 
tution must be made to his heirs. If the owner cannot 
be found, or if he have no heir, the value must be given 
to the poor, or must be employed in procuring Masses 
for the soul of the owner. 


It is also necessary to make restitution immediately. 
Some keep the property of others, and wish to make 
restitution, but say: "When I am dying, then I will 
restore it." So you w r ould make restitution when you 
have no longer any use for the property when you can 
not take it with you ! When a person is able to make 
restitution, and defers it for a notable time, he is guilty 
of mortal sin, though he should have the intention of 
making the restitution. He is excused from mortal sin 
if he defers the restitution for a short time for ten or 
fifteen days, but not longer. And should his creditor 
suffer a loss on account of this short delay, he is bound 
to repair the loss; for it is certain that a thief is obliged 
to compensate the owner for all the damage done him 
by the theft. He who is able to make restitution, and 
will not make it immediately, cannot be absolved. For 
most persons find it very difficult to make restitution; 

1 " Reddite ergo omnibus debita." Rom. xiii. 7. 

CHAP, vii.] The Seventh Commandment. 


and therefore he who, though able, does not make it 
immediately, is in danger of not making it at all. 

A gentleman stole and kept a hundred pieces of gold. 
He went to confession, and was required by his confessor 
to make restitution, and perhaps under pain of being 
refused absolution. " Father," said he to the confessor, 
" I will make restitution as soon as I return home." 
But he did not fulfil his promise; he frequently made 
similar promises, but afterwards violated them. In the 
end the confessor said to him: "If you wish to receive 
absolution, go home and bring me the stolen property; 
otherwise I will not absolve you." He went home and 
brought back the money. The confessor said to him: 
" Give it to me." He replied: " Father, you must take 
it yourself; I will not give it you." Thus he made res 
titution. From this fact, brethren, you may learn how 
improbable it is that a person who has been absolved 
before he has made restitution will afterwards restore 
what belongs to others. It is certain that, unless he 
make restitution, he can never obtain pardon. " The 
sin," says St. Augustine, "is not remitted unless the 
property taken aw r ay is restored." 1 Hence, St. Anto- 
nine 2 has justly said that no sin is more dangerous to 
the soul than the sin of theft. The reason is that in 
other sins it is enough for the sinner to repent; but in 
theft the sinner cannot be pardoned without making 
restitution, if he is able to make it, although he should 
perform all possible penances. 

Miserable the man who keeps in his hands the property 
of others ! The following fact is vouched for by several 
authors: A usurer was obliged, in his last illness, to re 
store all that he was possessed of. The sick man con- 

1 " Non remittitur peccatum, nisi restituatur ablatum." Ad Maced. 
Edit. Ben. Ep. 153, n. 20. 

" Nullum peccatum periculosius furto. In aliis, homo dolendo 
salvatur; de isto, oportet ut etiam satisfaciat." 

494 Instructions for tJie People, [PART i. 

signed to four persons all the money and goods that he 
had unjustly acquired that they might restore them to 
the lawful owners. After having retired to his convent, 
the confessor, while at prayer, saw a devil weeping be 
cause he had lost the soul of the usurer, and afterwards 
heard another devil saying to the devil that was weep 
ing: "What a fool you are to weep ! Do you not see 
that though you have lost one soul you have gained 
four? Attend to these four; they w r ill easily become 

I repeat, miserable the man who keeps the property 
of another ! for he will scarcely make restitution, and 
will probably be damned. And will he ever, even in 
this life, have comfort in the enjoyment of the goods of 
others ? No; he will be continually tortured by remorse 
of conscience. A robber stole an ox from St. Medard; 
the ox had a bell suspended from its neck. The robber 
brought the ox to his house; and, though the ox remained 
motionless, the bell never ceased to ring. The night 
came; fearing that he should be discovered, the robber 
stuffed the bell with hay; but it still continued to ring. 
What did he then do ? He took the bell off the ox, and 
shut it up in a box; but the bell did not cease to ring; 
then he buried it, but all to no purpose. At last he was 
thoroughly frightened, and took the ox and restored it 
to St. Medard, and the ringing ceased. Let us now 
make the application to ourselves. He who keeps the 
goods of another has within himself a bell which rings 
unceasingly, and says to him: "Unless you make resti 
tution, you shall be damned." How can you expect 
peace with your conscience continually troubling you? 


" But, Father, I cannot make restitution." He who is 
really unable to make any restitution because he has a 

CHAP, vii.] The Seventh Commandment. 495 

bare subsistence from day to day for himself and his fam 
ily is excused from sin. For him it will be enough to have 
the intention of restoring the ill-gotten goods as soon 
as he shall be able, and of restoring as much as it shall 
be in his power to restore. If a person is unable to re 
store all that belongs to his neighbor, he is bound to 
restore at least as much as he is able, by saving, for 
example, a few pence every week. But you say: "I 
shall never be able to restore all I owe." No matter; it 
is enough for you to restore as much as you can.* 

What shall we say of the man who is able to make 
restitution, and says: "If I make restitution, what will 
become of my children ?" And if you go to hell, what 
will become of you ? In the life of the Venerable Father 
Louis la Nuza, a celebrated missionary in Sicily, who 
died in 1656, we read that he once heard the confession 
of a gentleman laboring under a serious malady, who 
possessed the property of others to a large amount. He 
exhorted him to make restitution. But the rich man 
answered: "If I make restitution my son will not be 
able to live like his equals." Father Louis entreated 
and conjured him not to expose his soul to certain dam 
nation ; but the gentleman remained obstinate ; so he 
went away. On the following morning, as he was walk 
ing on a solitary road, he met four negroes conducting 
a man bound on a beast of burden. He asked where 
they were carrying the miserable man. They answered: 
"To the fire." The Father looked at the man, and dis 
covered that he was the person who obstinately refused 

* Let us not forget that if material means are wanting to us, we can 
always, and should always, have recourse to God with confidence, by 
imploring his mercy and by offering him our good works, or at least 
our good will with the merits of Jesus Christ. God who is our Father, 
a Father infinitely rich and infinitely good, will deign without doubt to 
supply our indigence, either by procuring for us what is wanting, or by 
himself repairing all our wrongs done to our neighbors, living or dead. 
Let us remember the prodigal son.- ED. 

496 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

to make restitution. He afterwards went into the city, 
and was informed that the unhappy gentleman was 
dead. This is the end of those who refuse to make 
restitution, in order to leave their children in affluence. 
What an excess of folly, to go to hell for the sake of 
leaving your children comfortable ! If you go to hell, 
will your children release you ? Listen to a story re 
lated by Peter de Paludo. A certain father of a family, 
through fear of leaving his children in poverty, refused 
to make restitution. To bring him to a sense of his 
folly, his confessor had recourse to the following ingen 
ious artifice. If, said he to the sick man, you wish to 
recover from your infirmity, call one of your children, 
and make him anoint your body with a little fat ex 
tracted from his own flesh by fire. The sick man had 
three sons ; but none of them would submit to suffer 
such a torment for the recovery of his father. Then 
the father became sensible of his folly, and said: "So 
you will not bear a little fire, to save me from death ; 
and must I go to hell, to burn for eternity, in order that 
you may live in greater comfort? I should be a mad 
man if I did so." He then restored all that he owed. 


"And if I have Masses said for the sum which I owe, 
will not that be sufficient?" No; to employ the sum 
which is due in procuring Masses, the obligation of 
restitution to the owner will forever remain. But you 
may say : "I have given the money for Masses." But 
the owner wants his property, which you have taken. 
The only case in which it is lawful to expend the money 
in procuring Masses, or in alms for the soul of the owner, 
is when he is unknown, and when it is impossible to find 

But there are few who make restitution. This we see 
by experience. How many thefts are committed every 

CHAP, vn.i The Seventh Commandment. 497 

day, but how few restitutions ! According to the com 
mon saying: " Dressed meat does not return to the 
market." Verme tells us that a hermit once had a 
vision of Lucifer on a throne, and a devil who had 
just come from the earth standing before him: "Where 
have you been all this time?" asked Satan. "I have 
been waiting to tempt a thief not to make restitution," 
answered the devil, " Oh," said Satan, "give this fool a 
flogging. Don t you know, fool, that the man who has 
taken another s property never makes restitution ? And 
you have been losing all this time in tempting him not 
to make restitution ! Quick, the flogging !" Lucifer 
was right: " Cooked meat does not come back to market." 


Let us conclude the instruction on this precept. 

He who is aware of having in his possession the prop 
erty of another, must examine whether he has got it in 
bad faith or in good faith. If he has received it in good 
faith, that is, through inculpable ignorance that it was 
the property of another, and has it still in his posses 
sion, he is certainly bound to restore it. If, during his 
good faith, he consumed it, he is obliged to restore as 
much as he is made richer by the consumption of it; 
that is, what has been spared and still remains of his 
own property, which would have been spent, had he not 
used what belonged to another. 

If, during his good faith, or sincere belief that the 
goods of another in his possession were his own, he con 
sumed them all, and is not made richer by the use of 
them, he is not bound to any restitution. But if he has, 
in bad faith, or culpably, got possession of the property 
of another, he is bound to restore what he has taken, 
and to indemnify the owner for all the losses caused, 
even accidentally, by his injustice. To this he is bound, 
if he wishes to be saved. If he is unwilling to make 

498 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

restitution, and wishes to be damned, he has his choice; 
but let him remember that he will have to repent, not 
only in the next life in hell, but also in this life. 

The prophet Zachary says, that a malediction falls on 
the house into which a neighbor s property enters. This 
is the curse that goeth over the face of the earth, . . . it shall 
come to the house of the thief, . . . and shall consume it} 
Hence, St. Gregory Nazianzen says: He who possesses 
wealth unjustly, shall lose even his own riches. 2 The 
goods of others are a fire that consumes themselves and 
the goods of the possessor. Such are the effects of the 
divine malediction. Let us, then, says St. Gregory, 3 
possess the goods that the Lord sends us ; but let us 
not allow ourselves to be possessed by the goods of this 
earth. Some become the slaves of earthly goods to such 
a degree that for them they voluntarily condemn them 
selves to hell. O misery ! how many poor souls go to 
hell on account of other men s property ! 

How differently does the wise man act who loves his 
soul better than other people s goods ! Henry, King of 
Castile, left his son the heir to his kingdom; but because 
the son was only a child, he entrusted the government 
to his brother. The brother governed the kingdom with 
so much rectitude, that the people wished him to assume 
the absolute dominion of the kingdom. What did he 
do? He one day appeared before the people with his 
infant nephew in his arms, and said that the kingdom 
belonged to the child, and that he would spend his 
blood and his life in order to secure it for him. What a 
noble act, to renounce a kingdom rather than offend 
God ! But God amply rewarded his fidelity; for he 
brought him to the throne of Aragon, where he reigned 

" Haec est maledictio quae egreditur super faciem omnis terrae; . . , 
et veniet ad domum furis, . . . et consumet earn." Zach. v. 3. 
* " Qui opes inique possidet, etiam opes suas amittet." 
3 " Terrena res possidea^ur, non possideat." 

CHAP. vn. i 77/6 Seventh Commandment. 499 

in peace, and his family was replenished with abundance 
of blessings. 

St. Augustine relates an act of similar generosity. In 
the city of Milan a poor man found a purse containing 
two hundred pounds. He was told that since the owner 
was not known he might keep the money. But he feared 
God, and put up along the public road many notices, 
stating that he had found the purse. The owner ap 
peared, and having accurately described the lost prop 
erty, received the purse from the poor man. He offered 
the poor man twenty pounds as a reward, but he refused 
to accept them. The owner then entreated him to take 
ten or at least five pounds. But the poor man refused, 
saying that they all belonged to the owner. The owner, 
as if angry, threw the purse at the feet of the poor man, 
saying: "Since you will take nothing from me, I will 
take nothing from you." The poor man was thus forced 
to accept the offer ; but he did not retain the money. 
He went instantly and distributed it among the other 
poor of the city. 

500 Instructions for the People. [PARTI. 



" Thou shall not bear false witness." ! 

THE chief thing forbidden in this commandment is to 
give false testimony in a court of justice. When you 
are interrogated by a legitimate judge, you are bound 
to tell the truth ; and if you do not disclose it, and say 
that you know nothing about it, you are guilty of sin. 
But some one may say: "I have concealed the truth 
that my neighbor might not be injured." This excuse 
is not sufficient, as I have already said, 2 in treating of 
the second commandment. When asked by lawful 
authority, you are bound to tell what you know, though 
it should be the cause of a loss to your neighbor. This 
is a just loss ; for the public good requires that male 
factors should be punished. But they cannot be pun 
ished if witnesses do not depose to what they know. 

He, however, commits a more grievous sin who in a 
court of justice attests a falsehood detrimental to his 
neighbor. A lie is always sinful, though it should be 
told in jest, or even for a useful purpose ; even though 
it be in order to escape death. The author of the 
"Parish Priest s Companion" relates that the Emperor 
Maximian sent his officers to take St. Anthimus, Bishop 
of Nicomedia, and put him in prison. The soldiers who 

" Non loqueris, contra proximum tuum, falsum testimonium." 
Exod. xx 1 6. 
8 Page 415, 

CHAP, viii.] The Eighth Commandment. 501 

were in search of him went by chance to the saint s own 
house to get something to eat. St. Anthimus gave them 
what they required, and treated them kindly. After 
wards they asked him where they could find Anthimus 
the bishop. The saint answered : "I am the very per 
son; I am Anthimus." The soldiers, through gratitude, 
said: "We will not take you to the emperor; we will 
say that we have not been able to find you." The saint 
replied: "No, my children, I do not wish you to be 
guilty of a lie; I would rather die than cause you to tell 
a lie." He then went with them to the emperor. 

A lie, then, is always a sin. To tell a lie which is not 
injurious to a neighbor is only a venial sin; but when it 
does a grievous injury to another, it is a mortal sin. It 
is of such lies that we are to understand the text of 
Scripture, The mouth that belieth, killeth the soul. 1 A lie 
told before a judge is a double mortal sin; and when 
accompanied with an oath, as is always the case in 
courts of justice, it contains the additional guilt of sac 
rilege, on account of the false oath, which is a most 
grievous sin, and a reserved sin. Tenesius, the legis 
lator, ordained that an executioner should stand at the 
right hand of the judge, with an axe in his hand, to put 
to death any one that perjured himself in judgment. 
Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment, . . . and all the 
people shall say, Amen? Eusebius 3 relates that three wit 
nesses made false accusations before a judge against 
Narcissus the bishop. The first said: "If the charge is 
not true, I am willing to be burnt alive." The second 
said: " I am satisfied to die of the jaundice." The third 
said: " I am willing to be deprived of sight." Iii a little 
time the three imprecations were verified. One became 

" Os autem quod mentitur, occidit animam." Wis. i. n. 

2 " Maledictus, qui pervertit judicium." Deut. xxvii. 19, 

3 "Hist. 1. 6, c. 9. 

502 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

blind, another died of jaundice, and the third was re 
duced to ashes by lightning. 


This commandment forbids detraction. This, too, is 
a very common sin. You will, says St. Jerome, find few 
persons who do not willingly censure the conduct of 
others. 1 Find me a man, says St. James, who does not 
sin with the tongue, and I will admit that he is a saint. 
If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man? 
When the tongue of a sick man is black, we may infer that 
he is in danger. The tongue is often a better index than 
the pulse of the malignity of disease : sometimes the 
pulse does not show symptoms of high fever; but when 
the tongue is black and foul, it is (as Hippocrates says) 
a sign of the approach of death. Many come to the 
church, frequently hear Mass, and say the Rosary; but 
their tongue, black with the sin of detraction, gives a 
token of eternal death. St. Bernard says that detrac 
tion is a three-edged sword, which, with a single stroke, 
inflicts three wounds: it wounds the detractor with sin, 
the person detracted by the loss of his character, and it 
wounds those who listen to it; for he who listens to de 
traction, and shows that it is pleasing to him, is also 
guilty of sin. 


Let us now explain what this sin is. Detraction is 
twofold: calumny and defamation. 

i. Calumny consists in telling a falsehood injurious to 
a neighbor, or in aggravating his guilt. When griev 
ously injurious to another, it is a mortal sin, and the 

" Raro invenies, qui non libenter reprehendat vitam alienam." 
Epist. ad Celant. 

2 " Si quis in verbo non offendit, hie perfectus est vir." James, iii. 2. 

CHAP, viii.] The Eighth Commandment. 503 

author of it is bound to restore the character of his 

2. Defamation consists in telling a secret sin of another 
to those who are ignorant of it; this, too, when griev 
ous, is a mortal sin, because the person defamed, as long 
as his sin is occult, retains his good name; you rob him 
of it by revealing his sin, and when he has lost his repu 
tation, he can no longer show himself in the world. 


There are various ways of taking away the reputation 
of another. 

1. By open defamation by saying : Such a person has 
been guilty of such a sin, etc. 

2. By indirect defamation ; by saying, for example : 
Such a man goes frequently to confession; but I . . . had 
better not say. It is sometimes less injurious to tell the 
sin openly, for the insinuation conveyed by that little 
but will make persons think that the evil is greater than 
it is in reality. 

3. By censuring the motive of a person s actions. 
Some cannot find fault with their neighbor s conduct, 
because it is blameless. What, then, do they do ? They 
censure his motive or intention. They say: He has acted 
thus in order to deceive others. 

4. By signs. He who is guilty of this kind of detrac 
tion is called in Scripture a man full of tongue? A man 
full of tongue; that is, a man who makes all his limbs 
into tongues, who detracts his neighbor not only with 
the tongue, but also with the hands, with the feet, and 
with the eyes. A young man of this character, who 
could not speak without calumniating his neighbor, was 
punished in a terrible way for his sin. He became mad, 
and bit off his tongue, the smell of his breath became 
intolerable, and so he died. Would to God that there, 

" Vir linguosus." Ps. cxxxix. 12. 

504 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

were not many addicted to this vice ! The poison of asps 
is under their lips. 1 Their mouth appears to be full of poi 
son, so that they cannot speak without destroying the 
reputation, now of this man, now of that one. 

5. Some are in the habit of listening and of afterwards 
relating what they have heard. They hear a person 
speak ill of another, and instantly go to the other and 
tell what they have heard. These are called backbiters, 
and are accursed by God, because they perform the 
office of the devil: they disturb the peace of families, 
of entire towns, and are the cause of so much hatred 
and of so many quarrels. Of this vice I have already 
spoken in the instruction on the precept of charity. 2 

Take heed, my dear Christians, how you speak; . . . 
be careful not to allow your tongue to send you to hell. 
In The Mirror of Examples it is related that one of the 
damned was seen, in a vision, biting and gnawing his 
ulcerated and scorched tongue, and saying: " This 
accursed tongue has sent me to hell." 

When a person s sin is public, to tell it, without a just 
cause, to one who is ignorant of it, is not a mortal sin, 
but it is a venial sin against charity; but remember that 
it is a mortal sin to reveal a fact that was once notorious 
but is now occult; because the person who had lost his 
reputation has now regained it. 


Let us now come to the remedies. He who has 
injured the character of another must not only confess 
the sin, but must also restore the good name that he has 
taken away. In this there is great difficulty: it is easy 
to take away, but most difficult to restore, a good 

When the defamation is effected by falsehood, the 

1 " Venenum aspidum sub labiis eorum." PS. xiii. 3. 

2 Page 398. 

CHAP, viii.] The Eighth Commandment. 505 

author of it is obliged to retract his calumny in the 
presence of all those before whom it was uttered; but 
this is the difficulty. Menochius relates that a noble 
man had defamed a married lady, and confessed his sin 
to a Dominican friar, who told him: " You must retract 
what you have said." The nobleman replied: " I cannot 
do that; for I cannot destroy my own reputation." The 
confessor replied, he could not give him absolution on 
any other condition; but the obstinate man again de 
clared that he could not do so. The friar at last, seeing 
that he was only wasting his time, said to him: " Go 
away: you are damned," and turned his back upon him. 
If the sin were true, but hidden, there is also, as I 
have already said, 1 an obligation of restoring the injured 
character; and in this there is still greater difficulty; 
for, if the person really committed the sin, it cannot be 
said that he was innocent of it, for that would be a lie, 
and it is never lawful to tell a lie. What, then, is to be 
done ? The detractor must use some other and more 
convenient means, some equivocation, for instance, such 
as: " It was only a joke what I said of that man it was 
all out of my own head." Sometimes it is better to 
speak well of the person whom you have calumniated 
without making any allusion to the sin you have told of 
him, particularly when you have reason to presume that 
this would be more pleasing to him than to revive the 
remembrance of his fault. 

It is, however, necessary to know that it is not detrac 
tion, nor a sin, to tell a fault of another to his Superiors, 
parents, guardians, or masters, that they may prevent 
evil to the public, or to an innocent person, or to the 
delinquent himself. For example, if a girl is familiar 
with a young man, or if a young man goes to a house of 
bad character, and you make it known to the father 
that he may apply a remedy, you are not guilty of sin. 
1 Page 503. 

506 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

On the contrary, you are obliged to do this when it can 
be done without danger of any great harm to yourself. 
Nor is this, as I have said, detraction. St. Thomas 
says that to speak ill of another is sinful when it is done 
to blacken his character, but not when it is done to pre 
vent his sin or injury. 


I said that detraction is sinful. But is it a sin to listen 
to detraction ? A very great sin if you encourage the 
detraction, or if you take pleasure in it and show you 
are pleased with it. But if a person does not show him 
self pleased with the detraction, but through a certain 
fear neglects to reprove the detractor, he is not, accord 
ing to St. Thomas, 2 guilty of a mortal sin, because he is 
not sure that his correction will have the effect of pre 
venting the detraction. But this is to be understood 
only of those who are not Superiors; for the Superior of 
a person who is guilty of detraction is always obliged to 
correct him and to stop the detraction. When a person 
hears detraction going on, and perceives that the matter 
is important and secret, he should either correct the 
detraction, or endeavor to change the subject of con 
versation, or go away, or at least show by his counte 
nance that he is displeased with the detraction. 


This commandment forbids contumely. Contumely is 
an insult offered to a person in his presence. Detraction 
destroys the character of a neighbor; contumely takes 
away his honor. When contumely contains defamatory 
matter, it is a double sin, because it injures the honor as 
well as the good name of the neighbor. 

Hence, as there is an .obligation of restoring a neigh 
bor s reputation, so there is also an obligation of repair- 
1 2, 2, q. 73, a 2. 2 ibid. a . 4. 

CHAP, vni] The Eighth Commandment. 507 

ing the injury done to his honor by asking pardon, or 
by some other act of humility towards him. 

When contumely is offered (and it may be offered 
either by acts or by words) in the presence of others, 
the reparation must be made before the same persons. 

To open another s letter is a species of contumely, and 
therefore it is always a sin, unless there is a presumption 
that the person who sends the letter or the person to 
whom it is sent is not unwilling that it be read. 

It is also" a sin to disclose, without a just cause, a 
secret which is entrusted to you or which you promise 
to keep. With regard to the just causes of revealing a 
secret, ask your confessor and follow his advice. 

Is it a sin to entertain rash judgment ? Yes; to judge 
rashly a very great sin when the judgment is on an 
important matter, and really rash, that is, made without 
any reason, without certain grounds. But when there 
is any foundation for judging so, it is not a sin. To 
suspect evil of another without grounds is a venial sin; 
it scarcely amounts to a mortal sin unless when a person 
voluntarily and without any grounds suspects a neighbor 
of a most grievous sin. I have said without any reason; 
for when there is some foundation for the suspicion 
there is no sin. However, the virtuous always think 
well and the wicked think badly of their neighbors. 
The fool . . , whereas he himself is a fool, esteemeth all 
men fools. 1 

We have treated of the eighth commandment; the 
ninth and the tenth which forbid Christians to covet 
the goods and the wife of another, remain to be ex 
plained. But in the sixth commandment we have 
spoken of the sin of impurity, and in the seventh of the 
sin of theft. By the ninth and the tenth are forbidden 

1 " Stultus ambulans, cum ipse insipiens sit, omnes stultos aestimat." 
Eccles. x. 3. 

508 Instructions for the People. [PART i. 

only the desires of these sins.* Hence it is sufficient to 
say that what it is a sin to do it is also a sin to desire. 

I also omit the commandments of the Church, because, 
in treating the ten commandments, I have explained 
what is most necessary to be known regarding the com 
mandments of the Church. 

* JVon concupisces domum proximi tui, nee dcsiderabis uxorem 
ejus, . . . nee omnia qua illius sunt Thou shalt not covet thy neigh 
bor s house: neither shalt thou desire his wife . . . nor anything that 
he has." Exod. xx. 17. 

The six principal commandments of the Church are 
expressed in the following verses: 

1. Sundays and holy days observe 

As feasts of obligation; 
Attend at holy Mass, and keep 
From servile occupation. 

2. Lent, Ember-days, and Vigils, fast, 

With one meal and collation. 

3. On Friday, meat thou must not eat, 

For sake of Christ s dear Passion. 

4. Once in the year at least confess 

With due examination. 
At Easter-time receive thy Lord 
With thanks and adoration. 

5. In Lent or Advent marry not 

With pomp and ostentation; 
Wed before witnesses, and seek 
The Church s approbation. 

6. The worship of the Church maintain 

With generous contribution. 

The first of these commandments, which ordains the 
hearing of Mass and abstaining from servile work on 
Sundays and feast days of obligation, is found ex 
plained in Chapter III., page 419. The second and the 
third concerning fasting and abstinence are also ex 
plained at the end of Chapter III., page 433. The fourth, 
about Confession and Communion, belongs to Part II., 
Chapters IV. and V. ED. 

Instructions 011 tljc ijolj} Sacraments, 



JESUS CHRIST himself Instituted the sacraments, as 
means to make us partakers of his merits. The sacra 
ments, therefore, are so many sacred channels, through 
which Jesus Christ communicates his graces, which are 
the fruits of his Passion. 

It is necessary to know that every sacrament confers 
two kinds of grace, namely, sanctifying grace and sacra 
mental grace. Sanctifying or habitual grace is that which 
sanctifies the soul that receives the sacrament, provided 
it be received with the requisite dispositions. Sacra- 
men/a/grace is that which gives the soul a special aid to 
obtain the end for which each sacrament was instituted. 
Thus, Baptism confers a special grace to wash the soul 
and cleanse it from sin. Confirmation gives strength 
to confess the faith of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist pre 
serves and augments in us the divine grace, which is the 
spiritual life of the soul. Penance enables us to recover 
the grace that we have lost. Extreme Unction gives 
strength to resist at death the assaults of hell. Orders 
enable the ministers of the Church to fulfil their obliga 
tions. Finally, Matrimony confers on husband and wife 

CHAP, i.] The Sacraments in General. 5 1 1 

help to bear the burdens of the married state, and to 
bring up their children in virtue. 

Three of these sacraments, namely, Baptism, Confir 
mation, and Orders, have the special effect of impressing 
on the soul a certain character or spiritual mark which 
can never be effaced. Hence these three sacraments 
can be received only once ; but the others may be re 
ceived several times.* 

My principal object is to speak of the sacrament of 
penance that each one may be well acquainted with the 
manner of confessing his sins; however, I will say a few 
words on the other sacraments, that each person may 
know their essence, their effects, and the dispositions 
necessary for receiving them. 

* Let us here add that the two sacraments, namely : Baptism and 
Penance, are commonly called the sacraments of the dead, because they 
were instituted to restore the life of grace to those that are deprived of 
it by sin. The five other sacraments are called the sacra?nents of the 
living, because they were instituted for those that possess the life of 
grace. ED. 

512 Instructions for the People. [PART n 



LET us briefly touch on four points regarding Bap 
tism : its necessity, its effects, its minister, and what is re 
quired for it. 

1. With regard to its necessity, it should be known that 
Baptism is not only the first but also the most necessary 
of all the sacraments. Without Baptism no one can 
enter heaven. Unless a man be born again, he cannot see 
the kingdom of God. 1 It is also the most necessary, inas 
much as no one is capable of receiving any other sacra 
ment if he has not previously received Baptism. Hence, 
Baptism is called the gate of all the sacraments. Is it 
impossible for a person who does not actually receive 
Baptism to be saved? I answer: He can be saved, if he 
receives it in desire; that is, by desiring to be baptized, 
and by believing in Jesus Christ ; as has happened to 
many who, when unable to receive Baptism actually, 
have received it in desire. Faith is requisite as a pre 
paration for receiving the grace of Baptism but not 
charity; for attrition is sufficient, without contrition. 

2. The effect of Baptism is to wash the soul and to 
cleanse it from all sins, as well from original as from 
actual sins, and to deliver it from all the punishment 
due to these sins. 

3. The minister of Baptism is the parish priest, by 
whom, or by another priest, with his permission, it 
should be ordinarily administered ; however, in case of 
necessity, when an infant is in danger of death, any 

1 " Nisi quis renatus fuerit denuo, non potest videre regnum Dei." 
John, iii. 3. 

CHAP, ii.] The Sacrament of Baptism. 513 

man or woman, even an infidel or heretic, can confer 

4. Let us now come to what is necessary for Baptism. 

With regard to the person to be baptized, if he has at 
tained the use of reason he should have the intention of 
receiving Baptism, and sorrow for his sins. Some re 
quire that this sorrow should amount to contrition; but 
others more commonly hold that attrition is sufficient; 
and this is the opinion of St. Thomas: "Fora man to 
prepare himself to receive the graces of baptism, faith is 
required, but not charity; because attrition preceding it 
is sufficient ; it need not be contrition," We shall ex 
plain the nature of contrition and attrition in speaking 
of confession. 2 The intention, then, of receiving Bap 
tism is necessary for adults; but the intention of the 
Church supplies for those who have not attained the 
use of reason. All infants who, like the Holy Innocents, 
are put to death from hatred to the faith, are saved 
through the merits of Jesus Christ. 

For Baptism are also required the matter and form, 
and the intention of the minister. The matter is natural 
water. The form consists in the words pronounced by 
the minister during the triple infusion of water on the 
head of the person to be baptized; but if the water can 
not be poured on the head of the infant, it is sufficient 
to pour it on the breast or shoulders, or any other part, 
when it is impossible to pour it on some principal part 
of the body. The words of the form are, " I baptize 
thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
the Holy Ghost." Persons, particularly midwives, must 
be very careful to remember not to leave out the con 
junction and ; hence it would not then be sufficient to 

" Ad hoc quod homo se praeparet ad gratiam in Baptismo percipi- 
endam, praeexigitur fides, sed non charitas, quia sufficit attritio prsece- 
dens, etsi non sit contritio." In Sent. 4, d. 6, q. i, a. 3, sol. I, ad 5. 
2 Chap. V., 2. 

514 Instructions for the People. [PART n. 

say, " In the name of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy 
Ghost." You must say, " In the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The minister 
must have the intention to confer Baptism, or at least to 
do what the Church does, as the Council of Trent has 
defined: "If any one says that it is not requisite for 
ministers while consecrating or administering the sacra 
ments to have an intention at least of doing what the 
Church does, let him be anathema." 

Sponsors, that is, a godfather and godmother, are re 
quired in Baptism. It is enough to have one; but there 
cannot be more than two one male and one female. 
Sponsors are obliged to attend to the instruction of the 
child in what regards faith and morals, when there is no 
one to instruct him ; but they are not bound by this 
obligation in Catholic countries, where parish priests 
are diligent in the discharge of their duty. It is also 
necessary to know that the sponsors contract a spiritual 
relationship with the person baptized, and with his 
father and mother, so that they cannot be married to 
any of them. 

Baptism should be administered in the Church ; to 
administer it in private houses, without urgent neces 
sity, would be a great sin; such necessity is either the 
imminent death of the infant, or infamy and scandal 
that would attach to the mother if the child were taken 
to the public church. But the children of kings and 
princes have the privilege of being baptized at home. 2 

Remember that to defer the baptism of infants for 
more than ten or eleven days is, according to the more 
common opinion of theologians, a mortal sin, except 
there is some extraordinary reason for it. 

"Si quis dixerit in ministris, dum Sacramentum conficiunt et con- 
ferunt, non requiri intentionem saltern faciendi quod facit Ecclesia, ana 
thema sit." Sess. VII. De Sacr. in gen. can. n. 
2 Clement, de Baptismo. 

CHAP, in.j The Sacrament of Confirmation. 5 1 5 



CONFIRMATION is one of the seven sacraments, as has 
been declared by the Council of Trent, 1 and after it the 
Council of Florence. 2 It increases the grace received in 

The matter of the sacrament of confirmation is the 
sacred chrism composed of the oil of olives and balsam, 
consecrated by the bishop as the Roman Catechism 3 
teaches, and as Benedict XIV 4 has declared. The oil 
signifies the abundance of the grace of the Holy Ghost 
which is poured on the person confirmed; and the bal 
sam signifies the odor of virtues, which a Christian 
strengthened by so great a sacrament ought to send 

The .form of confirmation consists in the words pro 
nounced by the bishop when he anoints the forehead of 
the person with the sacred chrism, and with the sign of 
the cross. The words are: N. (naming the person to be 
confirmed) / sign thec with the sign of the cross, and confirm 
thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: A person present 
answers, Amen. Afterwards the bishop strikes the per 
son confirmed lightly on the cheek, to remind him that 
he should be prepared to surfer every pain and every in 
jury for the sake of Jesus Christ. He then dismisses 
him, saying : Pax tecum Peace be with thee. At the 

1 AV.s-.f. V. de Confirm, can. T. Deer, pro Armen. 

3 DC Confirm, q. 6. 4 Encycl. 54. 52. 

5 "N., signo te signo Crucis, et confirmo te Chrismate salutis, in 
nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti." 

516 Instructions for the People. [PART n. 

words, "I sign thee with the sign of the cross," the per 
son confirmed is sealed or inscribed with the sign of the 
cross, as a soldier of Jesus Christ; and by the words, "I 
confirm thee with the chrism of salvation," he receives 
the grace of strength to resist the enemies of the faith 
and the assaults of hell. 

He who receives this sacrament should know the mys 
teries of the holy faith, and should be in the state of 
grace; otherwise he is guilty of sacrilege. Hence the 
person who is to be confirmed would do well to go to 
confession and Communion before he receives confirma 
tion. In ancient times confirmation was given to infants; 
but Benedict XIV. in his Constitution 129, Eo quqmvis, of 
the year 1745, has declared that at present it should be 
given only to those that have attained the use of reason, 
at any rate not before the age of seven years, as the 
Roman Catechism teaches. However, the same Pontiff 2 
in another place admits, with other theologians, that it 
may be given infants when there is an urgent cause; as, 
for example, when the child is in danger of death, or 
when the bishop is about to be absent for a considerable 
time from the diocese. 

There was once a question raised, whether all Chris 
tians were bound under grievous sin to receive the 
sacrament of confirmation, or whether the obligation 
extended only to those that were destined for holy 
Orders. But it is now decided that all are bound, as 
appears from the following words of Benedict XIV. : 
"The faithful are to be admonished by the Ordinaries 
of the different places, that they are guilty of grievous 
sin, if, when they have the opportunity, they refuse or 
neglect to come to be confirmed." 3 

1 .De Con Jinn. q. 14. 

2 De Syn. 1. 7, c. 10, n. 5. 

3 " Monendi sunt ab Ordinariis locorum, eos gravis peccati reatu 
teneri, si, cum possunt ad Confirmationem accedere, illam renuunt ac 
negligunt." Const. Etsi fastoralis, 3, n. 4. 

CHAP, in.) The Sacrament of Confirmation. 517 

In receiving this sacrament, it is commanded, under 
pain of grievous sin, that there be a sponsor; * but there 
can be only one, who must, under penalty of mortal sin, 
have received confirmation, and must be of the same sex 
as the person confirmed. While the sacrament is con 
ferred, the sponsor should keep his right hand on the 
right shoulder of the person who receives the sacra 
ment. This sponsor also contracts a spiritual relation 
ship in the same manner as sponsors for Baptism. It 
should be known that monks and nuns are forbidden to 
act as sponsors. 

To understand the great efficacy of this sacrament in 
imparting spiritual strength to the faithful, it is enough 
to relate one fact, vouched for by St. Gregory Nazianzen 
and Prudentius. Julian the Apostate wished one day to 
offer sacrifice to his false gods, and had everything pre 
pared; but at the moment they wished to offer the sacri 
fice, the knives would not pierce the victims, the fire was 
instantly extinguished, and the ministers became im 
movable as a rock. The sacrificing priest said, " There 
must be some one present who has been baptized or 
confirmed." The emperor asked if there were any such 
person present in the assembly, and then a young man, 
who had received confirmation a little before, came for 
ward and said boldly: "Yes, sir, I have been confirmed, 
and therefore I have besought my God to prevent the 
impiety of the sacrifice, and he has heard my prayer." 
Julian was struck with astonishment, and, covered with 
confusion by the prodigy, he gave up the sacrifice, and 
withdrew from the temple. 

* This having been omitted in some dioceses, the second Plenary 
Council of Baltimore uses these words: " Episcopi nullum non move- 
bunt lapidem, ut disciplina hujusmodi" (adhibendi scil. Patrinos in 
Confirmatione). "Jam in nunnullis harum Provinciarum dicecesibus 
invecta, ubique introducatur." A. 253, and p. cxxxix. n. n, 

518 Instructions for the People. IP ART n. 



IN this sacrament Jesus Christ gives us his body and 
blood under the species or appearances of bread and 
wine, that by the holy Communion his grace and holy 
love may be preserved and increased in our souls. We 
must then believe that in consequence of the words of 
consecration pronounced by the priest in the Mass, the 
bread and wine lose their proper substance, and are con 
verted into the body and blood of Jesus Christ; and that 
nothing remains of the bread and wine but the species 
or appearances, the color, the taste, ard figure; so that 
it is a dogma of the faith, that the Most Holy Sacra 
ment of the altar contains Jesus Christ, really and 
entirely, his body, his soul, and divinity. 

We must, consequently, believe that Jesus Christ, at 
the same time that he is in heaven, is also really and 
entirely in all places upon earth where the consecrated 
Host is reserved; and that when the most holy Host is 
divided Jesus Christ is not divided, but remains entire 
in every separate particle of the Host, as has been de 
clared by the Council of Trent, 1 by the Council of Nice, 2 
and by the Council of Lateran under Innocent III. 3 

The principal effect of this sacrament is to preserve 
and perfect in us the spiritual life of the soul. As 
earthly bread nourishes the body, so this heavenly 
bread nourishes the soul, and . makes it advance in 

1 Sess. XIII., can. III. 

2 Bellarmin. De Euch. 1. 2, c. 10. 
z Lat. VI. iv., cap. i. 

CH. iv.] The Sacrament of t lie Holy Eucharist. 519 

divine love. It also serves, says the Council of Trent, 1 
as an antidote to cleanse us from venial and to preserve 
us from mortal sins. Another effect of this sacrament is 
resurrection and glorification of our bodies, which we 
expect at the last judgment ; for Jesus Christ s^ys : He 
that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath life ever 
lasting, and I will raise him up at the last day? But the 
most desirable of all the effects of the holy Communion 
is, that it unites and makes us one with Jesus Christ. 
He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, abideth in 
Me, and I in him? In order to receive these holy effects, 
it is necessary to be in the state of grace; he who re 
ceives the holy Communion with a conscience laden 
with mortal sin, receives Jesus Christ, but not his grace; 
on the contrary, he merits the malediction of Jesus 
Christ, and, according to the Apostle, he receives the 
sentence of his own condemnation; because he is guilty 
of a most enormous sacrilege. He eateth and drinketh 
judgment to himself. 1 " 

It is related that a person in the state of mortal sin 
went to Communion, but what was the consequence * 
The consecrated particle became like a sword and 
pierced his throat, and the person fell instantly dead 
at the foot of the altar. 

There is a more terrible example related in the " Tere- 
sian Chronicles." A girl fell into a sin, which she was 
ashamed to confess, and afterwards made three sacri 
legious Communions. After the third Communion she 
was suddenly struck dead before the altar. Her coun- 

1 " Antidotum, quo liberemur a culpis quotidianis, et a peccatis mor- 
talibus praeservemur." Sess. XIII. cap. 2. 

2 Qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem, habet 
vitam seternam ; et ego resuscitabo eum in novissimo die." John, 

vi. 55- 

3 " Qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem, in me 
manet, et ego in illo." -John, vi. 57. 

4 " Judicium sibi manducat et bibit." i Cor. xi. 29. 

520 Instritctions for the People. [PART n. 

tenance appeared, not black, but full of splendor. All 
cried out; "A saint ! a saint !" and her body was car 
ried in procession through the whole neighborhood. 
But mark what happened, and tremble at the thought 
of receiving Communion in mortal sin. An angel ap 
peared to a Teresian Carmelite friar, who was in his 
cell, during the night on which the body of the unhappy 
girl lay unburied in the church. The angel conducted 
the Father to the church, and commanded him to open 
the mouth of the deceased. He opened her mouth, and 
found the three Hosts that she had received in the state 
of sin, and placed them in a ciborium. After the removal 
of the Hosts her countenance appeared no longer bright 
and resplendent, but black and horrible. 

Let us return to our subject. For a person in the 
state of mortal sin, if he wishes to receive the body of 
Christ, it is not enough to make an act of contrition, 
though this is sufficient for the reception of other sacra 
ments. It is necessary for such a person to go to con 
fession, and to receive absolution, before he approaches 
the holy Communion. The only case in which a person 
can communicate after committing mortal sin, without 
confession and absolution, is, when he forgot the sin 
until he had come to the altar; in such a case, in order 
to avoid the scandal that should arise from rising up to 
go back to confession, it is enough to make an act of 
contrition; after making an act of contrition, he may re 
ceive the holy Communion. 

This is the disposition necessary for Communion on 
the part of the soul. With regard to the disposition of 
the body, which is necessary for Communion, a person 
must be fasting from midnight; that is, he must not 
have taken into the stomach any digestible substance, 
whether liquid or solid. The sick, when in danger of 
death, are excepted; for they can receive the most holy 
viaticum after having broken their fast, 

CM. iv.] The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. 521 

These are dispositions absolutely necessary for Com 
munion. But to communicate with greater fruit, it is 
necessary to purify the soul from venial sins at least, 
from venial sins which are fully deliberate. Hence, 
tepid souls that habitually commit venial sins have not 
the dispositions necessary for frequent Communion. 
At most, they can be permitted to go to Communion 
once a week, that from the sacrament they may receive 
strength to avoid mortal sin. But persons who do not 
commit deliberate venial sins, and have a desire of ad 
vancing in divine love, may communicate more fre 
quently, according as their confessor may advise. St. 
Francis de Sales says that Jesus Christ gives himself to 
us only through love, and therefore we should receive 
him only through love. The best disposition, then, for 
holy Communion is, to receive the holy Eucharist in 
order to advance in the love of Jesus Christ. 

All know that every Christian is bound, under pain of 
grievous sin, to communicate at least once a year, and 
so to fulfil his Easter duties: this ought to be done 
within the time prescribed for the fulfilment of the 
Paschal precept; and to this all are obliged, under the 
penalty of being interdicted from entering the Church, 
and of being deprived of Christian burial after death. 
Every Christian is also obliged to communicate, and to 
receive the holy viaticum, whenever he is in danger of 
death. I say, in danger, without waiting till there is no 
hope of recovery. By waiting so long, the sick man 
runs the risk of dying without receiving the viaticum, 
as has happened to many. 

The Church, then, has declared that every Christian 
is bound, under pain of grievous sin, to communicate on 
two occasions, namely, at Easter, and in danger of 
death. But it is also necessary to know that a person 
will scarcely preserve himself in the grace of God, if, 
like some who are negligent about their eternal salva- 

522 Instructions for the People. [PART n. 

tion he communicates only once a year. This we know 
by experience; and reason teaches us, that when the 
soul is a long time without this divine food, it scarcely 
has strength to resist temptations, and therefore easily 
falls into sin. The Most Holy Sacrament is called 
celestial bread; because, as earthly bread supports the 
life of the body, so this heavenly bread preserves the 
life of the soul. Therefore, let every Christian com 
municate at least every eight days, as has been already 
said; but persons who lead a spiritual life, make mental 
prayer, and abstain from deliberate venial sins, ought, 
with the consent of their confessor, to communicate 
several times in the week. For the rest, who live with 
out much devotion, that they may at least preserve 
themselves in God s grace, it is advisable to go to Com 
munion every Sunday, or at least every fortnight. 

Children, as St. Thomas says, should be obliged to 
go to Communion as soon as they are capable of under 
standing the difference between this divine food and 
earthly bread. Some children are capable of under 
standing this difference sooner than others. But, ordi 
narily speaking, the obligation of going to Communion 
does not begin until after the ninth or tenth year; but 
their first Communion cannot be deferred beyond the 
age of twelve, or, at the most, beyond the age of four 
teen years. We know that St. Charles Borromeo com 
manded his parish priests to endeavor to make the chil 
dren go to Communion as soon as they had attained 
the age of ten years. And for children, in danger of 
death, theologians, along with Benedict XIV. 2 com 
monly teach that so great an age is not necessary; it is 
sufficient if they are capable of making their confession. 
It is necessary to communicate; but, as has been said, 
it is necessary to communicate in a state of grace; 

1 P. 3, q. 80, a. 9, ad. 3. 

2 DC Syn. 1. 7, c. 12, n. 3. 

CH. iv.] The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. 523 

otherwise the Communion will become a poison, or 
rather a halter to strangle the unworthy communicant. 
St. Cyprian relates that a Christian woman who, in 
order to conceal herself, had through fear of the perse 
cution done an action contrary to faith, came to the 
church, and went to Communion without confessing 
her sin. But what was the consequence? The sacred 
Host remained in her throat; the throat instantly 
swelled in such a manner that she began to tremble 
from head to foot, and so expired. 

1 S. de Lapsis. 

524 Instructions for the People. [PART n. 



PENANCE is a sacrament in which, by the absolution 
of a confessor, sins committed after Baptism are re 
mitted. For priests have received from Jesus Christ the 
power of remitting sins, as appears from the words: 
Whose sins y OIL shall forgive, they are forgiven ; and whose 
sins you shall retain, they are retained? Therefore, the 
Council of Trent excommunicates all that say that this 
sacrament has not the power to remit sin. By this 
sacrament the sinner recovers not only the divine grace, 
but also the merits of the good works performed in the 
state of grace, which he had lost by sin. The soul also 
receives additional strength to resist temptations; for 
the same Council says that by justification we are re 
newed in the spirit of our mind. 2 All these graces we 
receive through the merits of the Passion of Jesus Christ. 

To receive this sacrament, three things are particu 
larly necessary on the part of the penitent : First, 
sorrow for sins committed, together with a purpose or 
resolution to commit them no more. Secondly, an entire 
confession of all the sins committed. Thirdly, the per 
formance of the penance enjoined by the confessor. 
But, in order to be able to confess all his sins, and to 
conceive a true sorrow for them, the sinner must first 
make a diligent examination of his conscience. 

1 " Quorum remiseritis peccata, remittuntur eis; et quorum re- 
tinueritis, retenta sunt." John, xx. 23. 

2 " Renovamur spiritu mentis nostrae." Sess. vi. cap. vii. 

CHAP, v.] The Sacrament of Penance. 525 


Examination of Conscience. 

This examination consists in making a diligent search, 
in order to call to mind the sins committed since the 
last confession, which was made with the requisite con 

In this search many fail by too minute an examina 
tion, and many others by not examining enough. The 
former are the scrupulous; they are always examining 
their conscience, and are never satisfied; thus they fail 
in exciting a true sorrow for their sins and a firm pur 
pose of amendment. Moreover, their scruples render 
the sacrament so odious, that going to confession 
appears to them like going to be martyred. This ex 
amination for confession need not be made with extreme 
diligence; it is enough for the penitent to apply himself 
with attention, in order to discover all the sins com 
mitted since his last confession. This diligence must be 
proportioned to the conscience of the penitent. If he 
has been a long time absent from confession, and has 
fallen into many mortal sins, greater diligence is neces 
sary; less is required if he has been lately at confession, 
and has committed but few sins. If, after making a 
diligent search, a person forgets a certain sin, but has a 
general sorrow for all his sins, the one that he has for 
gotten in confession is pardoned, and he is only bound 
to confess it at his next confession. When a confessor 
tells a scrupulous penitent to make no further exami 
nation, and never again to confess what he has now 
told, the penitent should be silent, and obey the con 
fessor. St. Philip Neri used to say: " Let all who de 
sire to advance in the way of God obey their confessor, 
who is in the place of God; he who acts thus may be 
certain that he shall not have to render to God an ac- 

526 Instructions for the People. [PART n. 

count of the actions which he performed through obedi 
ence." And St. John of the Cross said, that " not to 
trust in what a confessor says, is pride and a want of 
faith." The great reason of this is because our Lord 
said to his ministers: He that hearcth you hcarcth Me? 

But would to God that all were scrupulous ! Gen 
erally, such souls have a tender conscience: let them be 
obedient, and they are safe. The misfortune is, that 
the majority of Christians have not many scruples; 
they commit numberless mortal sins, which they for 
get; and afterwards they barely confess the sins that 
occur to them at the moment of confession. Thus it 
sometimes happens that they do not accuse themselves 
of half their sins. Confessions made in this manner are 
fruitless; it would be even better to omit them. A his 
torian, Nidus- ErithrcEiis or Victor Rossi, relates that a 
young man, who had usually made his confession in this 
way, sent for a confessor at the hour of death; but be 
fore the confessor arrived, a devil came, and showed the 
young man a long list of sins omitted in his past con 
fessions, through want of diligence in examining his 
conscience. The poor young man despaired of sal 
vation, and died without making his confession. 

Good Christians make an examination of conscience 
and an act of contrition every evening. There was a 
devout monk lying at the point of death; when his 
Superior came and told him to make his confession, he 
answered: "Blessed be God! I have for thirty years 
made an examination of conscience every evening, and 
have made my confession every day as if I were at the 
point of death." 

My children, when you are preparing for confession, 
go to a retired part- of the church; first of all, thank 
God for having waited for you till that moment, and 

1 Bacci, \. I, ch. 2O. 

2 " Qui vos audit, me audit." Luke, x. 16. 

CHAP, v.] The Sacrament of Penance. 527 

then beg of him to make known to you the number and 
the grievousness of your sins. Then begin to pass over 
in your mind the places you have frequented, the per 
sons with whom you have kept company, and the dan 
gerous occasions in which you have been since your last 
confession. Examine in this manner all the sins com 
mitted during that time by thoughts, by words, and by 
deeds: above all, examine yourself on the sins of omis 
sion, particularly if you are the head of a family, a 
magistrate, or in any similar situation in which persons 
do not generally accuse themselves of sins of omission. 
But to make the examination in a more orderly manner, 
it is better for those who have committed different kinds 
of sin to examine themselves on the Ten Command 
ments, and see what commandment they have violated, 
and whether the violation has been grievous or venial. 

He who has had the misfortune of having committed 
a mortal sin must go to confession immediately; for he 
may die any moment, and be damned. You may say: 
" I will go to confession at Easter or Christmas." And 
how do you know that you will not die suddenly in the 
mean time ? "I hope in God that I shall not !" But 
should it happen, what must become of you? How 
many have kept saying, Hereafter, hereafter, and are 
now in hell: because death came upon them, and they 
were not able to make their confession. 

St. Bonaventure relates, in the life of St. Francis, 
that while the saint was going about and preaching, a 
gentleman gave him lodging in his house. Moved with 
gratitude, St. Francis recommended him to God; and 
the Lord revealed to the saint that the gentleman was 
in a state of sin, and that his death was at hand. The 
saint instantly called him, and made him go to confes 
sion to a priest, the companion of the saint. Soon 
afterwards the gentleman sat down to dinner, but before 

1 Lepcnda S. Franc., c. n. 

528 Instructions for the People. [PART n. 

he could swallow the first mouthful, he was struck 
down with sudden death. 

A similar misfortune befell a sinner who was damned 
on account of having deferred his confession. Venera 
ble Bede J relates that this man, who had been fervent, 
fell into tepidity and mortal sin, and deferred confession 
from day to day. He was seized with a dangerous ill 
ness; and even then put off his confession saying that 
he would afterwards go to confession with better dis 
positions. But the hour of vengeance had arrived: he 
fell into a deadly swoon in which he thought that he 
saw hell open under his feet. After he had come to his 
senses again, the persons who stood round his bed begged 
him to make his confession, but he answered: "There 
is no more time; I am damned." They continued to 
encourage him. " You are losing time," said he; " I 
am damned, I see hell opened; I there see Judas, Cai- 
phas, and the murderers of Jesus Christ; and near them 
I see my place, because, like them, I have despised the 
blood of Jesus Christ by deferring confession for so 
long a time." Thus the unhappy man died in despair 
without confession, and was buried like a dog outside 
the church without having a prayer offered for his soul. 

With regard to venial sins, it is useful to confess them; 
because the absolution of a confessor remits them. But 
there is no obligation of confessing them; for, accord 
ing to the Council of Trent, the pardon of them maybe 
obtained by other means without confession such as 
by acts of contrition and of charity, or by saying the 
" Our Father" with devotion. 

Are venial sins also remitted by the use of holy water? 
Yes; not directly, but indirectly by way of impetration; 
for the Church, by the blessing of the water, obtains 
for the faithful who use it acts of repentance and love, 
by which sins are cancelled. Hence, after taking holy 

1 EC ties. Hist. Angl., 1. 5, c. 15. 

CHAP, v.] The Sacrament of Penance. 529 

water, it will be useful instantly to make an act of sor 
row or of the love of God, that the Lord may, in conse 
quence of those acts, remit all venial sins that remain 
in the soul. Holy water helps also to dispose us to 
devotion, and to banish the temptations of the devil, 
particularly at the hour of death. Surius tells us of a 
dying monk who asked his prior to send away a black 
bird from the window. The prior sprinkled the window 
with holy water, and the bird, which was really the 
devil, flew away. It is also mentioned by Father 
Ferrerio that a monk of Cluni at the hour of death saw 
his chamber full of devils, but on sprinkling the cell 
with holy water they immediately disappeared. 

Let us now proceed. We have spoken of the exami 
nation regarding mortal and venial sins. But were a 
person to do an action with a doubt whether it was a 
mortal or a venial sin, what kind of sin would he com 
mit? He would be guilty of mortal sin, because he 
exposes himself to the danger of grievously offending 
God. Hence, before he acts he must lay aside the 
doubt; and if he has not hitherto done so, he must con 
fess i